By the numbers: -30 million migrating birds flew over my house this weekend (Audubon) -12 black women are playing in the US Open Tennis Tournament. Hopefully it will continue to increase. -Phoenix has had a record run of 50 days of 110 degree temps in a row. -Portland has had a record of over 100 days of protesting. -A record 2.2 million acres have been burned in California with the two worst months to go. -A record high temp of 121 degrees was recorded in Los Angeles County -Denver recorded 100 degrees, then 24 hours later, 30 degrees and snow. -The United States has the most Corona Virus cases in the world, just ahead of India. -There have been a record number of hurricanes so far for this time of year. -Warnings from the UN that the Earth is hitting it’s temperature limit
“Extra fresh? Extra wet? Extra extra? Extra beautiful? Extra Great? Extra gitchy? Extra deep? Extra wide? Extra voluminous? Extra fishy? Extra rocky? Extra clean? Extra cold? Extra Superior?” @Lake Superior (twitter)
Yes, extra Superior! A world pandemic is still raging, elected leaders incite violence, forest fires and hurricanes are constant, but no drama on Lake Superior. By August the lake has warmed and the contrast between the cold lake and warm air isn’t so extreme causing less drama. This lack of drama makes the big lake more peaceful as the gentle waves ripple to shore.
The loons call, and the eagles screech from their tree towering over the lake. The hummingbirds like little fairies hover and suck nectar from the last of the plants as they prepare for their long journey south.
Plants are turning brown, and yellow golden rod dominates. Blooming plants were early this year so they lose energy and turn brown sooner. Only a few butterflies remain, they have been replaced by grasshoppers, and like the birds the chipmunks are already busy preparing for winter.
July was a perfect time to indulge in watching butterflies and monarch caterpillars. Every new caterpillar was a celebration. Unfortunately, something else found them to be joyful food, and they disappeared. We suspect the chipmunks. Their numbers were too many this year, and they seemed to be watching my treasured caterpillars as much as I was! Every new butterfly I see I hope they were one of my precious fat caterpillars.
Surprisingly, in July the lake had a harder time keeping us cool from the hot humid summer south of us, but August brought 70 degrees days while a hundred miles south it was a hot humid 90 degrees.
On to September and more change, turning leaves and intense beauty! Extra beautiful!
Food waste is a waste of water, a waste of energy and transportation, and a waste of time and labor. Making an effort to reduce food waste is an important thing we can all do for the economy and the Earth. In America 40 percent of the food produced is wasted!
We waste too much food, and there is a food crisis with this pandemic. Many are unemployed, and lines are long at food shelves, which are experiencing a massive demand. A big disconnect, many are starving, and at the same time we waste lots of food! Today, no recipe required, instead of throwing food away use your creativity to create a meal with left overs and produce you have in your house. Can you make an omelet, soup, wrap, or stir fry with what you have? Have fun, be creative!
“Even before COVID-19, Americans, on average, were tossing away more than a pound of uneaten food per person each day, amounting to some 400 pounds of food thrown out annually. That’s far more than any other wealthy country — about 50% more food waste per capita than France and nearly double that of the U.K. According to U.S. government estimates, the cost of U.S. food waste comes out to $161 billion annually. The environmental costs are abysmal.” Read the article by Amanda Little here.
These are important facts we should be aware of, from the IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Food production causes 30 % of greenhouse emissions, 80% of global deforestation, and uses 70% of the world’s fresh water!
May is Arbor Month. Do you have a favorite tree? When I was a child I had a young basswood tree growing in my back yard. It was a little tree, but it had enormous leaves. I loved watching that tree grow and change!
“The tree I had in the garden as a child, my beech tree, I used to climb up there and spend hours. I took my homework up there, my books, I went up there if I was sad, and it just felt very good to be up there among the green leaves and the birds and the sky” Jane Goodall
Find a tree on your walk, in your yard, or neighborhood to enjoy. Observe it everyday. Watch how it changes, notice the shade it gives, the texture of its bark and leaves What kind of seeds does it have? Watch for new growth. How does it help wildlife? What attracted you to it? What beauty and diversity does it add to your environment? Give it a name.
I have a cedar in my backyard full of mysterious activity. All the birds that fly in and out of its secretive branches intrigues me. Cardinals have built a nest hidden in its branches, but it is too busy an environment to raise a family. It does feels like a friendly place, and all the birds love its shelter. I would love to hide in its branches to find out all that goes on within this cedar tree. Unfortunately, the cats in my neighborhood also sit and watch this tree full of bird activity. Please keep your cats inside!
May is a perfect month to plant trees, but always plant something native to your area, and please plant trees friendly to wildlife. Here is the National Wildlife Federation’s list of best trees for wildlife. Oaks are especially good for wildlife.
Trees are beautiful and add so much to make our environment special, but “Foremost might be trees’ role in purifying the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Of course, they also play a vital role in creating habitats for wild animals, providing food, water and shelter.” Jim Gilbert
How do trees help keep water clean? Trees improve water quality by slowing rain as it falls to the Earth, and helping it soak into the soil. They also prevent soil from eroding into our waterways, reduce storm water runoff, and lessen flood damage.
On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day let’s celebrate our Earth. We ate all in this together, and it’s a wonder how interconnected we all are. Who would think the entire planet could work in solidarity for one thing, healing! Our forced isolation has begun to heal the Earth. The air is clearing, the waterways resting, and wildlife is happy to have quiet and some of their habitat back.
Our Earth is an amazing place, and on this Earth Day think about the wonders of our beautiful planet.
“There’s wonder everywhere, if only you look for it. Look for it. It might be in a tree outside your window, in the patch of sky you can see if you crane your neck, in the herbs you’re growing, in the nest the swans are building on that open stretch of marsh across the street.” Sam Sifton NYT
All these wonders are connected. We can make the world a better place when we work together in solidarity. Can something good come of this awful crisis? May science, justice and kindness transform our world into a new beginning. Take 3 breaths for peace, and celebrate wonder on this Earth Day!
Sadly all the shopping restrictions have made plastic-free shopping more difficult. Even my food coop won’t allow me to fill my own containers, but as we shop we can still work to purchase items with a minimum of packaging and strive for less waste. Hopefully, in a few months things can safely start to get back to normal.
Spending the day at home makes it easy to be plastic-free. Always use real dishes, utensils and glasses/cups. Read about my plastic-free day here.
Make Tuesday the day to use up food left-overs from the week. Create wraps, soups or a stew from your left overs. Before the Coronavirus 40% of food was wasted in the United States. With so many hanging out at home I suspect that number is now lower. Let’s save water, labor and energy, and continue to reduce our food waste.
“Learn strategies to reduce food waste at Save the Food, (www.savethefood.com) and commit to taking action. Some ideas: improve your meal planning and stick to your grocery list, store food to make it last, reorganize and inventory your refrigerator or pantry, and keep track of perishable items and use them up before they spoil.” Hennepin County
Start this week with a meatless Monday. Cooking meatless gives you a new fun challenge.
I love meatless Monday. It forces me to think about something different, and Monday is a good day to try a new vegetarian dish. Today I am making a delicious split pea vegan soup. See the recipe here. It would be a miracle if you had the ingredients, but if you have some carrots, celery and beans or lentils you can create something rich using this recipe. We are all into substitutions right now and you can do this! Be creative and have fun, and give yourself something new to think about.
Beans and lentils cause 34 times LESS climate pollution than beef, and they are healthier for you! Read at NRDC.
It has been amazing how popular beans have been in this crisis. I hope you are enjoying and making healthy food choices. During this coronavirus crisis we need to be keeping our immune systems strong. Make a big deal out of what you are making for dinner, and enjoy a meatless day!
Everyday should be kind and thoughtful, but make a special effort today. Our collective actions for kindness can make a difference. Put water in your bird baths, fill your bird feeders, check-in with someone you haven’t seen or heard from in awhile, especially those living by themselves.
Be kind and smile.
Let’s take collective action to flood our communities with positive energy and kindness even as we social distance.
It’s a perfect time to be outside and connect with nature. Many people are using nature to help them survive this crisis. An idea from the Daily Good: “Identify a plant, bird or bug in your immediate environment, whether that be through a window, in your yard or around your neighborhood. See that robin alighting on your fence or bee buzzing around your window box flowers? Pause a minute to really study it and think about what role it plays in the environment around you. If you don’t know what it is, try using a book or online tool to identify it.”
Clean water, and water use are crucial to our health. Flooding and droughts are serious for our future, and we all have a right to clean drinking water. Become aware of your water usage and how lucky you are to have inexpensive clean drinking water. Water Wednesday is to concentrate on our water usage. It is a day to pick up litter, sweep our sidewalks, and clean debris from our storm drains. Collective positive energy works!
And an act of Gratitude from The Daily Good: Today’s Daily Good is to prepare notes of appreciation for your waste collection, postal or other workers who provide a public service. You can even ensure it is hands-free by taping it on your door or mailbox or hanging an appreciation in your window. However you communicate it, take a minute today to appreciate the hard work and dedication of those who show up for us and our communities day in and day out.
Nature is not cancelled, pollinators are not cancelled, blooming trees and plants are not cancelled. There is a whole world of beauty outside our homes and from our windows. On this fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, celebrations are going virtual, but as individuals I hope we can each think about what our wonderful world means to us. We are all connected and our collective action against Coronavirus is working. Let the healing of our Earth and our people begin, and lets put our collective action together to make a better world. Because we are all connected let’s come out of this crisis stronger as a people and stronger as a society. Our resilience will get us through this. I have a daily activity for everyday as we celebrate and count down to Earth Day. I hope you will join me. Please have fun, connect to nature, experience the hope of spring, be kind, and be part of a healing world!
Collective action to reduce our meat consumption*** can make a big difference. Monday is a good day to try a new vegetarian dish. Find a recipe for Lentil Cacciatore here. It has been amazing how popular beans have been in this crisis. The grocery store shelves for beans are still empty, and I hope we are cooking and making healthy food choices. Enjoy a meatless day!
Plastic-free/Zero waste Tuesday
Spending the day at home makes it easy to be plastic-free. Always use real dishes, utensils and glasses/cups. Make Tuesday the day to use up food left-overs from the week. Create wraps, soups or a stew from your left overs. Before the Coronavirus 40% of food was wasted in the United States. With so many hanging out at home I suspect that number is now lower. Let’s save water, labor and energy and continue to reduce food waste.
Clean water and water use have become crucial topics. Flooding and droughts are happening everyday, and we all have a right to clean drinking water. Become aware of your water usage and how lucky you are to have inexpensive clean drinking water. Water Wednesday is to concentrate on our water usage. It is a day to pick up litter, sweep our sidewalks, and clean debris from our storm drains. Redirect your drainspouts onto your lawn, and figure where you could plant a raingarden?Is there a place in your yard or porch/balcony you could add some native plants the bees and butterflies love? Collective positive energy works!
Thoughtful Thursday Everyday should be kind and thoughtful, but make a special effort today. Our collective actions for kindness can make a difference. Put water in your bird baths, fill your bird feeders, check-in with someone you haven’t seen or heard from in awhile. Be kind and smile.
Become totally engaged in your surroundings. Create a scavenger hunt: look for sidewalk art, a butterfly, a beautiful tree. Look for blooming flowers, a bird building a nest, something that surprises you or a special cloud. Everyone that finds something new wins!
Singing Saturday What sounds of nature catch your attention? I have birds singing outside my window. Ducks are flying overhead, frogs and crickets will sing soon. Maybe the wind or a rushing creek give you peace. Listen for an enjoyable sound, or maybe listen for complete quiet. Find peace in nature.
What ever your spiritual practice, nature can heal us. Today find beauty and love whether through the gospel, through a poem or picture, time outside or a meditation. Dare to dream. Spend the day focusing on what you love and finding beauty in your day. If the weather permits go for a long walk. What do you love, how can you have more of what you love in your life? Find quiet beauty from your walk or from your window. Wishing you peace.
***”Now is the time to try out any plant-based recipes you’ve saved. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants that keep your immune system strong, and they have a lower carbon footprint, too. For example, beef is about 34 times more climate pollution–intensive than beans and lentils, pound for pound. If you’re finding it hard to keep your produce fresh given your newly limited shopping habits, get creative. Whir brown bananas into smoothies, or simmer soft tomatoes into sauce. There are plenty of ways to salvage fruits and veggies slightly past their prime. So boost your repertoire. Share recipes with friends. And come out on the other side of this crisis a climate-friendly chef.” NRDC