After such a depressing post yesterday on income inequality and the resulting cost to our environment I thought you might need a dose of the little things that show a positive movement.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead
These pictures were taken one afternoon on a walk with my granddaughter. As a result of being around people who notice and care about the natural world she notices the little things and also cares about the world she inhabits. These were images she wanted to have for herself of the things she said make her happy.
It’s easy to have an influence on a child as children are so impressionable. For good or bad our children look to the adults in their lives and adopt many of the same values. It’s much easier to teach others when you live by example rather than lecture or preach at people.
When I moved here one of the first conversations I had with a neighbor was about another neighbor’s yard. The yard in question is filled with trees; small trees, big trees, flowering trees and shrubs. The trees block access to the front porch which doesn’t seem to bother them as they use a different door to access their home. The neighbor pointing out this yard wasn’t too happy with the sight of the trees I could only laugh and tell her that she wasn’t going to be happy with my property then either because I had lots of plans to plant trees every where I could.
It’s been a year since we had that discussion and out of the blue she asks me what kind of trees could she plant in her yard so her visiting grandchildren would have the experience of playing under them.
Who says people are rigid and won’t change? I don’t know what changed her mind and I’m not going to ask.
After talking to her for a few minutes I realized she also loves flowers and the color pink. I suggested she look for a Rose of Sharon for one spot in the front yard. She doesn’t know what this is but plans to ask around for one.
The neighbor boys who are often found at my door asking for work they can do around my yard have suddenly taken to chopping up a section next to their house filled with weeds. They came to me and asked if I would help them pick out trees and plants they could put in this section instead. I told them I would think about it. Anything they put in this spot will have to be hardy because the “weed” they are trying to eliminate is known as Japanese Knotweed a perennial that spreads like crazy and makes growing anything else in the area difficult at best.
My daughter-in-law has been looking through the seed and garden catalogs in my home and often has a lot of questions about gardening and plants in general. She wistfully mentioned she would love to try growing lemons in her home, so for her birthday I ordered her a lemon tree. Then last week she spotted a picture of a suet feeder and asked if the birds actually liked “this stuff”.
I told her I rarely consider suet in the warmer months but that yes birds do like suet but so do squirrels. She called to tell me she bought a suet and a suet feeder and that it was gone in less than two days.
Other little changes I’ve been noticing include:
My daughter-in-law had been taking my larger laundry items home to wash for me since my move here. I would send her a jar of my homemade detergent. One day she called and asked if she could use some of my detergent for a load of her clothes to try because she loved the smell of my detergent. Of course she could. Now I’m asked to make her up batches to use instead of the commercial brands. She also asked about the dishwasher powder I made and when learning how inexpensive it was, and safer to have in the house with a toddler, now makes her own dishwasher powder.
My granddaughter, now five, laments every time the grass is cut at my house because the edible flowers she likes to sample have been mowed over. She’s quickly memorized which flowers are edible, even I didn’t learn this at home when I was her age. Her older cousins also wander picking dandelion and clover to eat because they think it’s fun.
Shortly after I moved here I learned the neighbor children were terrified of all living things outside. A small frog was both interesting and something to keep their distance from. The other day the smallest boy took it upon himself to help me dig out a section of the property I’d tried to hire an adult to do for me. All of a sudden he starts calling me over to look at a bug he found. Turns out he found a cicada that was barely alive. There is one category of cicada we expect to see out this year and maybe this was one of them. Anyway, the child who was terrified of every insect, and frog, a year ago wanted to save this bug. He asked me to get a container, what he could feed it and took to caring for the cicada until one afternoon he came to tell me it was no longer in the dish he’d kept it in.
Although a few days later he brings me a bug he found while clearing weeds and asked me if it was okay. This time he’d found a slug and I had to laugh because my first instinct was to tell him to kill it. I didn’t instead I told him it was fine and to put it back where he found it. I didn’t think to take a picture but lean and Learn has a lovely photo of a white slug in this week’s Second Look.
One afternoon I mentioned to the neighbor boys that I could smell rain coming. The middle child shocked told me you couldn’t smell rain. After telling him what to expect and to sniff the air he got excited and told me that indeed you can smell the rain. I also showed him how the maple leaves were turned up to catch the water. Now he comes by to tell me he smells rain or when he goes on walks with me checks the leaves to see if they expect it to rain.
I am under no illusion that I am changing the world. I am in fact adding to all the other voices out there to change the conversation, to impart a bit of my knowledge to others and help them see the world in a new way. I will never make a huge difference, one large enough to change the way we as a society see the world. As Margaret Mead said, a small group will change the world. It is the only way change will happen. So share the tricks and tips you have learned, let others hear your concerns for the natural world, show by example that we can be happy with less. It will mean something to at least a few who see how you live.