Like Magic

Like Magic

Last evening as I prepared a meal of eggplant, yellow squash, green beans, and wax beans seasoned with dill, I remarked to myself “it’s like magic.” Every item in the meal, including the seasoning, was grown in our backyard. It was a veritable feast for a vegetarian like me.

Photo by Tim Graves
Photo by Tim Graves

As I rinsed the dirt off the squash, I smiled knowing that I did not need to worry about pesticides or non-organic substances creeping into my meal. The gardener in our family, never uses those things.

At dinner, I tasted each vegetable planted by my wife. The subtle taste of yellow squash, the stronger slightly sweeter taste of eggplant, the satisfying crunch of the green beans, and the slightly squishier less pronounced flavor of the wax beans satisfied my vegetarian soul.

I tasted the magic that is Creation. With a few seeds, water, with loving weeding and tilling, and a little luck multiple meals are growing under the eastern Oregon sun in my backyard.  They make their way into the house where I prepare most of our meals. (My freezer is also slowly filling up with food for those cold winter days.)

Photo by Tim Graves
Photo by Tim Graves

As the non-gardener, it is probably easier for the meal to seem magical. But of course it’s not really magic. The harvest is the divine dance between Creation and the human being who nurtured the earth and seeds to fruition. Perhaps that is why the gardener in my family talks about gardening as a spiritual practice. Each year gardeners co-create a harvest with God.

What else could we create if we listened to the spirit of love moving across the earth?

Water in Wheeling

I love this letter that I read FOUR DAYS after I got home from Lexington. It begins:

“Our water system recently violated a drinking water standard…this is not an emergency…”

I’m a little concerned that the Water Department doesn’t consider violating the standards as an emergency! Perhaps, I’m just an alarmist but how hard is this??? The letter continues to describe that Wheeling water exceeds TTHM:

“Total Trihalomethane (TTHM) are byproducts formed in the disinfection of water with chlorine and organic material present.”

What kind of “organic material” do you think they’re talking about??? BLEAH!! It gets better when you read their reaction to the crisis:

“You do not need to use an alternative…water supply….if you have specific health concerns…consult your doctor….This is not an immediate risk. [Some people who drink this over many years] may experience problems with their liver, kindneys, or central nervous systems, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

Nah, nothin’ to worry about! What is wrong with these people? I am not reassured when their solution is “a blending of well and river water (from the OHIO??) along with a change in chemical treatment.” Again, what is so difficult about this? We’ve had city water for my entire life. Then in small print at the end of the letter is this lovely line:

“Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools and businesses).

Gosh, why would you want to notify anyone besides the landed gentry. Sheesh, if we didn’t own our home I guess we would be expendable? What this tells me is that the Water Department only met the letter of the law regarding notification on this issue.

Bottom line: I am not amused.

Pretending Global Warming is Undecided is Irresponsible

Originally posted 2/7/07; reposted 2/18/07

I did my morning round of newspapers online this morning and discovered a new online poll on my local paper’s website. I found myself feeling quite aggravated and composed and submitted the following letter to the editor of the Wheeling News-Register/Intelligencer.

The tone of this newspaper’s coverage of the very real threat posed by global warming–including the recent poll asking if this cold snap changes people’s opinion about climate change–is irresponsible. Scientists from around the world have determined that the documented increase in Earth’s temperatures is 90% likely caused by the actions of human beings. A cold snap doesn’t change the reality of global warming or the impact climate change is having and will have.

What we need from our leaders is a cohesive and comprehensive plan to address our reliance on a lifestyle that continues to damage our planet. This plan must include not only long term methods of responding (e.g.; implementation of clean mass transit or concrete ways to help people switch to renewable energies to heat and cool our homes) but specific strategies that everyone can participate in immediately (e.g.; adjust our thermostats, stop using disposable products).

This newspaper can immediately talk to experts and publish in a practical, readable format ways in which each one of us can lessen our “carbon footprint”. This newspaper can investigate and report—not simply repeat the self-serving answers of politicians and executives–what the impact of any proposed action will be on the climate of our world.

In short, this newspaper has the ability to responsibly inform and educate and improve the life of our community and the world. Or, you can simply focus on making a buck.

Will we wait until West Virginia is a coastal state?

Originally posted 1/18/07 reposted 2/18/07

My wife and I were in England for two weeks over the holidays visiting our daughter who is working on a visa in rural Hampshire. This was our first trip overseas.

I love newspapers and was thrilled to be able to read paper copies of the Times of London and the Guardian among others. One of the biggest differences between the discussions in the US and the UK media is the way in which the issue of global warming is framed. In England even the more conservative papers and columnists seemed to be asking : “Are we doing enough to combat climate change?” Contrast this with the poll in my local West Virginia paper that asked whether people believed in global warming or not. In the United States we seem to be arguing about whether or not there is a problem as the ice caps melt while in Britain they have at least accepted the scientific reality of climate change.

Another difference that I noticed, that relates to climate change, is the mass transit in the UK compared to the US. We spent two weeks in England and traveled by bus, subway, train, and the occasional taxi. Only a couple of times–when we were forced to pay the high price of the taxis–did we regret not having a private automobile. The trains were spotless and full of passengers. Even the subway in London was clean and comfortable. Yet, the locals told us that the trains were terribly inferior to the rest of Europe. I guess the Brits should meet Amtrak to fully appreciate what they have.

A third difference is the size of the cars that they do drive. I saw precious few SUVs and those that I did see were small by American standards. I saw cars two sizes smaller than the smallest cars that the very same global corporations (Ford, Hyundai, Daimler-Chrysler, Toyota, etc.) offer to consumers in this country. When only one person is in a car, do we really need the bulk that we drive around in?

Perhaps, the British are more sensitive to climate change because global warming may very well cover the isles completely but will we wait until West Virginia has oceanfront properties before we admit the magnitude of the problem?