Yes. Let’s fast forward about 10 years. Because there are less people in cities, there is less chance for people to spread disease. Also, with more people in localized areas, local business flourishes again. Small businesses, mom and pop shops, and true pride through craftsmanship are given a new beginning. We also find space (in my wholesome and imagined future) for public edible landscape where everyone can meet their neighbors and chat while picking the red raspberries. Because people can get out more freely, there are more local social networks, and there’s also a deeper relationship with the landscape, as well as the inhabitants of it, the birds, the butterflies, and the bees. We move forward into another, more mature stage of humanity.
Today I tried to find places to plant my yuzu seedlings around my neighborhood. There was so much concrete, or weed-killed areas, that it was really difficult to find any places where they might survive. When they grow, some people might enjoy them, while others will tear them out of the ground, and that is their right. To me, it is a little gift that I can give back to the world. I hope that many years from now, if someone wants a yuzu fruit and can’t find one at the store, they can take a walk and pick one from a wild tree.
These past few weeks I have been enjoying picking some of my vegetables from forgotten corners in my neighborhood, and from my willing neighbor’s trees. Wolfberry shoots are bitter but taste so nutritious, and mulberry shoots are delicious and tender. I was told to pick some bamboo shoots… But they are two feet tall now!If we can make more space on our roadsides and unused spaces for wild edible plants, we can raise our resilience levels for times when food might be scarce.
It scares me to think that this could have been MERS instead of CoVid-19. If that had happened, the food system would have collapsed.
If everyone knew what plants are edible, that would be great, but after two weeks or even a few days they would be gone. We need to create a world with more kindness towards other species, plant and animal. Birds spread mulberry seeds. Mulberries can provide not only berries but a nutritious vegetable for your dinner plate. But mulberries often get wacked away. We don’t know the value of the species we are destroying by laying down concrete, either.
When I was doing research in a small town down south, the elderly residents said they hadn’t seen a valued ethnobotanical plant (Ashitaba) for a long time in their neighborhood. I asked them why they thought that was, and they answered that they thought it was because there is too much concrete everywhere.
It seems like it is okay to rip trees and plants out of the ground, destroying other species’ homes, but it isn’t okay for us to defend them. Ask the town office why they overprune the roadside and park trees; it is their right to do that but the tree has no rights. The river by my house, covered and sided up by concrete, also has no rights. It isn’t okay to plant trees where people don’t want them, either. It isn’t okay to try to create a viable world for our grandkids.
I think CoVID-19 is a wake-up call for us to realize that we cannot do ‘business-as-usual’ anymore. We HAVE TO change, or we will fail, big time. But how to change?
Today I found a plant I had never seen before. It had been cut down and was growing out of its stump with the most beautiful leaves. I’m sure whoever hurt it didn’t care, and just wanted to make more room in their unused parking lot. Changing is taking baby steps. Opening our minds to new ways of thinking. Refusing to follow those who tell us that “this is the way we have always done it” or “this is the way business will prosper,” because business will not prosper long term and neither will any of us if we don’t change, NOW. Small actions count!! Let’s begin doing little things, thinking about things differently, and the world will change, one person at a time, one community at a time, one city at a time, one country at a time…
So if I would like to make a little Earth Day Wish, it would be for you, the reader, to do something small this week for the natural world. Whether it be planting some edible tree seeds, making a nest box, labeling some wild plants, stop using weed-killer and weeding (cut them and do mulching, cover them with cardboard and compost and plant species you want instead), de-investing in bad companies, donating to a trusted natural cause, sharing an article, making a bird bath, planting a tree in a parking lot, or destroying some concrete and replacing it with something else, or another warm-hearted action. I hope you can do it for yourself, your children, and the world around you.
I found this postcard lying on the floor today… it became today’s esoteric reading. In this painting by the surrealist Spanish painter Remedios Varo, she captured part of the essence of what I believe is appropriate to the moment.
I think this painting was a twist on the tarot card “The Tower.” In the original image, people jump from a burning tower in terror as their world crumbles around them. It is one of the more dreaded cards in the deck, with a meaning of the death of something or extreme changes. A falling apart of what is known.
This painting is done with he same perspective, but with the tower having crumbled, its pieces strewn upon the earth. A flutist is, with music, magically encouraging their piecing back into place in the tower, pulling the world back together.
The Coronavirus pulled many people out of their towers, where they thought they were safe and had their lives. They suddenly tumbled down, their known existence in shambles, the tower of their lives ruined. But I see many creative people pulling themselves up with a musical force from the heart, communicating about the true necessities of the world and our own lives.
The Tower card of the tarot also symbolizes new beginnings. With the end of something comes the beginning of something new. Thus, in my readings I always bring this point up. The Tower card need not be feared, more it is a call to courage and determination in the face of great change.
This painting by Varo also says that what is needed is creativity and listening to the heart. We can all heal but we need to get creative and listen to what is needed calling from the dark recesses of our silent souls and the silent voice of this beautiful Earth that we live upon. True healing will come when we can face what we truly need to heal: ourselves and our home.
Re-reading the classic Small Is Beautiful by the economist E.F. Schumacher, I found a little gem.
“What is it that we really require from scientists and technologists? I should answer: We need methods and equipment which are
Cheap enough so that they are accessible to virtually everyone;
Suitable for small-scale application; and
Compatible with man’s need for creativity.”
“Out of these three characteristics is born non-violence and a relationship of man to nature which guarantees permanence. If only one of these three is neglected, things are bound to go wrong…”