environment

It's spring, and I've been on the road giving talks and workshops about gardening as a way to restore the earth and our connection to this glorious blue planet.

In the final Saturday panel at the Geography of Hope conference last weekend in Point Reyes Station, California, one speaker said something to the effect that "hope" was worthless in the face of the catastrophe of global climate change. That we couldn't sit around and simply hope things would get better, we needed to act in bold ways, to make radical changes, and we needed to act now. I agree that we need to act in bold ways and now.

For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

I own a power plant: my roof sprouts an array of photovoltaic panels that convert solar energy into electricity for my house and garage/studio. What I don't use (which turns out to be a bit under half of what I produce each month), feeds into the electric grid.

Sphinx moth pollinating native penstemon flowers in a park reclaimed from an abandoned industrial site. Sphinx moth pollinating native penstemon flowers in a park reclaimed from an abandoned industrial site.

One of my New Year resolutions is to "live generously." Which to me means not just being generous with other humans, but doing my best to live in a way that is generous to "all my relations," as my Indian friends say, the multitudes of other beings with whom we share this glorious blue planet.

The High Plains west of Pueblo with Pikes Peak under storm clouds in the background (that's true shortgrass prairie, buffalograss with a cholla "overstory"). The High Plains west of Pueblo with Pikes Peak under storm clouds in the background (that's true shortgrass prairie, buffalograss with a spa
Creek House from the south (the side facing the creek) in the evening sun. Creek House from the south (the side facing the creek) in the evening sun. (The street is to the right.)
Eastern black swallowtail emerges from its chrysalis on a fennel pant from my garden Eastern black swallowtail emerges from its chrysalis on a fennel plant.
Under the right-hand row cover are the tomatoes in their insulating teepees. Under the left are greens. Under the right-hand row cover are tomato plants in insulating teepees. Greens shelter under the left-hand cover.
Fall planting of Monet's Garden mix plus mache (corn salad), overwintered under row covers and now ready to eat. Fall planting of Monet's Garden mix plus mache (corn salad), overwintered under row covers and now ready to eat.
Fringed sage (Artemisia frigida) feeling the drought in my front yard "unlawn."

I feel like I should begin with a public confession:

My name is Susan.

I am a neglectful gardener.

A sheen of moisture on the paving stoves of my bedroom patio before dusk fell.
Janisse Ray's powerful call to preserve heritage crop seeds, our food inheritance.
Smoke from the Springer Fire turns the dawn orange over the Arkansas Hills last week.

You have to get over the color green.

Mr. Troyer, the bluebird of the title essay, painted by Julie Zickafoose

Desert indian paintbrush just beginning to bloom

When Richard and I woke in Moab on Friday morning, we fully intended to drive home that day. It's only 300 miles, a fairly easy drive compared to our 4,000+-mile tour of the inland West and the Pacific Coast.

It's not shaping up to be a spectacular wildflower year here in our high-desert valley. Not in this year of record drought, when we've received just 2.5 inches of precipitation since last September. (That is seriously dry.)

Still, we've gotten just enough rain that the wildflowers in our restored native bunchgrass yard are beginning to bloom. (And, I confess: I soaked the yard a couple of times over the past several months, mimicking the wet spring snows that never came.)

I'm exhausted tonight, so instead of the post I imagined writing on the nuclear power plant crises in Japan, here's an update on what's happening on our journey with Richard's brain cancer.