Archive for April, 2013

How many wake-up calls do we need?

April 19, 2013

 We were stunned to realize horrific killing and serious injury terrorizing the Boston Marathon. Patriot’s Day has always been a point of pride and joy as people gathered at points all along the road from Hopkinton to Boston to cheer on the runners from all over the world. I well remember the day my father and I watched the marathon from Framingham and my father picked the winner, a man who lightly touched the earth with his graceful stride.  He was from Korea and we were jubilant to hear that he so deservedly won!

 Yet, many of us have wondered not whether, but when, the rest of the world would become desperate enough, after so many US attacks killing innocent people, that they would begin to pay back. Or, how many US citizen protests against continuing wars that have been ignored by Congress, might stimulate some one of our own to cause such an attack in hopes of waking up Congress to start thinking about peaceful means of co-existence with the rest of the world.

 Our massive military offense spending to protect oil and other self interests comes at a time when we need to provide massive spending for research and development of renewable, sustainable energy sources. Instead of impoverishing our country with the costs of war while enriching US corporations who go in to clean up after our attacks, we could be providing leadership to resolve inequities and enrich the health and well being of people everywhere.

 This is not a time to be thinking about getting perpetrators and making them pay. Our religions all yearn for peace and harmony. We need to ask ourselves, how important is peace and harmony to us? Is it important enough for us to be able to show tolerance and respect for people of different religions, sexual preferences, languages, bodies, and life styles?  Is peace important enough for us to recognize that we are but one of the species that needs to be protected in order for the earth to continue to provide for us all?  Do we fully understand that our natural resources must be protected for that survival?

 Do we recognize that to keep everybody healthy, we need to share the wealth and keep people gainfully employed? Do we recognize that we need to stop bombing, killing and torturing people in other parts of the world? Do we recognize that we all need to be re-educated to make this happen, not just school children?

 This wake-up call is about choice and communities pulling together to change course.

Spring’s Dance

April 12, 2013

 Spring’s surge of energy is everywhere: in the swelling of buds that give hillsides a warm red glow, tulip leaves poking up regardless of remaining spring snows, chipmunks fluff up their tails and dart around old haunts, the air smells fresh, spiders hatch everywhere, winter stuff is stowed in favor of spring hikes; we’re getting out the canoes and kayaks; the juncos are back.

 Earth teems with the fever of mating as spring throws off its winter blanket and we humans, just one species among all who share this planet, reliably start a fresh year. We’re as predictable as the chipmunks, and I wonder if other species say to each other, “I just saw a few humans out picking up trash on route 175,” or perhaps the robins are saying, “that pile those humans raked up scratching earth’s back gives us the best building materials for this year’s nest.” 

 Sometimes humans forget that we are just one of the life forms on earth. We forget that we have an important role in earth’s dance for all beings to share the space, water supply, and land with each other so that we can all continue to thrive and survive.

 This week, Canadian activist and world citizen, Maude Barlow, spoke at PSU, updating us on our need to care for the earth’s water responsibly. PSU students have organized to ban the sale of bottled water on campus. 75 percent of bottled water bottles are trashed, not recycled, and the water they contain often does not meet the standards of regular tap water. Good news is that even airports are now installing tap water spigots so that it is possible for us to carry our own containers and refill them safely while traveling.

 Barlow’s latest book, Blue Covenant, is available in local libraries and YouTube carries several of her lectures.

 Many of us rely on our NH mountains to pump up our spirits. Whether we actually hike in the high peaks or walk in nearby wooded areas, spring is a time to be aware of how much our woods and all the life forms they house nourish us as well. Hopefully, we will choose to protect our woodlands and not cut them up with tower paths that stifle lives in the forest.

 Whenever we threaten the life of other species, we threaten our own as well. Whenever we value and safeguard other species, our own health reverberates with robust energy.

Here’s to fully embracing spring’s dance!

Trees are talking; Are we listening?

April 6, 2013

Have you ever wondered What Plants Talk About? If that sounds like too far out a question, check out the video by that title on pbs.org and enjoy a fascinating surprise! I was amazed to hear that we only see a third of the forest above ground. Below is a mind-blowing family network of roots and fungi working together in the two-thirds of the forest that is underground. We know that trees absorb carbon dioxide and the bigger the tree, the more it absorbs.

 The surprise for me was seeing and hearing about the network of fungi that coat all the roots and are part of a huge underground internet for fungus and tree families. And carbon is sucked down deep into their roots to be stored. Mother trees then send the bulk of the carbon as food to their young sprouts.  Fungi cover the roots and bring in organic nutrients to the trees while the trees feed carbs to the fungi – symbiosis at its finest.

 Because trees are capable of sucking up massive amounts of carbon dioxide, the more trees we have, the better our chances to decrease global warming. Energy problems invariably bring us to the realization that trees are key to our survival and cannot be exploited. Trees provide us with oxygen, heat, furniture, paper, tools, shade, and habitat for birds, squirrels, tree frogs and other members of the wildlife family. They also serve as holding tanks for water reserves and keep the land around them alive.

 I just gave Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse, another read. I hoped to understand the pattern that caused so many civilizations to collapse. I hoped to learned something to enlighten us lest we end up another collapsed civilization. In all of the collapsed civilizations, deforestation was a factor or the major factor. In this information age, we are the first civilization to have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

 Here’s the pattern that historically puts deforestation in motion: there was always a competitive streak among chiefs, priests, and rulers to outdo each other. Easter Island rival chiefs tried to do so with bigger and bigger statues. They cut down forests to provide the necessary staging to move the statues once completed. The last thing they did was to destroy each other’s statues. Having already destroyed their trees, they also destroyed wild life, water supply and soil, which led to starvation and cannibalism.

 We have a big medical system, big food companies, big agricultural conglomerates, big pharmacy, and big energy competitors. Their precedence threatens our trees, water, and soil. Finding out what worked and didn’t work in other cultures can help us make better choices for our future.

 Significantly, Japan has 73% of its land mass under forest management. Perhaps this has allowed the Japanese to recover from such devastating catastrophes.

As we reset our priorities this month, Earth Day can have special significance for us if we plant a tree as a symbol of our commitment to make saving our forests a top priority to keep each other well.

Spring check for what happens when….

April 6, 2013

Spring sets off a bunch of questions about what to plant, what new foods to try, what to look out for, and what really works to keep us healthy. We’re on Daylight Saving Time again.  It’s mud season. Bulbs are poking up. Road cleanup is on the to do list. It’s time to take wreaths down and put up the egg tree. We can micro-spike familiar trails and watch our favorite waterways magically slide their multi-mineral colored ice drapes from high banks back into the brooks. Citrus is in and we’re thinking more fruits….

 We’ve had the winter to soak up the latest trends researchers have come up with to bring about a health spurt and it’s tempting to try some new diet. Now, there’s an upsurge of energy to recharge our bodies. Which is why most of us need to pay special attention to the signals our bodies send out if we want to claim our drive to be well. What we eat isn’t nearly as important as noticing what happens AFTER we eat.

 Some foods get a nourishing boost if eaten with good friends or family, whether grazed through at a party that includes lots of hilarity, or savored with a friend, whether it’s a piece of delectable venison, or an amazing multi-course meal.  What we eat, with whom we eat, the ambiance of where we eat, and what else is going on in our life, all collectively generate how we feel AFTER we eat.

What we’re looking at is renewable, sustainable energy for our bodies that we can access and control. Food is just the part that gets the most notoriety for health. Exercise also plays an important role, whether we hike, work out at a gym or intentionally hit the stairs several times a day. Every move we make sends our blood circulating whatever nutrients we’ve taken in. When we make our exhalation as full as possible, like blowing out a hundred candles, this automatically assures that we’ll then inhale a full blast of fresh air through the nose to wake up our lungs and keep the oxygen exchange going. What we choose to do for exercise isn’t as important as how we feel AFTER we exercise.

 Noticing what happens when… joggles our consciousness and helps us to choose sustenance and exercise that generate robust health, regardless of whatever current researchers come up with. Here’s to enjoying all aftereffects!