Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bathrooms as Sacred Space where the Book of Common Prayer was the Readers Digest

We had one bathroom and next to the stool was a basket of reading material. I never questioned the oddity of that as a child. As an adult I do not think of the bathroom as the best place to read, but as a child I thought of this basket as a gateway to adult interests. There were always National Geographic magazines and Readers Digests. I liked the National Geographic very much, but it was big and the articles with pictures were long. Reader's Digest on the other hand was just the right size for a child, and it had jokes and puzzles in it! I adored Word Power and was delighted that it still exists.  It is where I built my vocabulary until I learned to write down and look up new words in the dictionary.  So despite the fact that my teachers eschewed the superficiality, light weight and skewed nature of the Readers Digest I was drawn to it. My brother and I often escaped to the haven of the bathroom at times when we were supposed to be engaged in our chores. Constipation was always a good rouse for avoiding the time of evening dishes.

This stalwart conservative-leaning publication was a cornerstone of my education. I had not read it for years, when it caught my eye as I waited in line at the checkout stand at my supermarket. Still Proclaiming itself in Times New Roman glory, with slightly altered format for the index, there it was with its intriguing articles. "35 extraordinary uses for ordinary things" was the title that caused me to purchase the once ubiquitous magazine. But what really snared my attention upon closer inspection was the article "The Darker Side of the American Lawn" It should be required reading this spring before anyone goes to the golf course, park or considers a trip to the local big-box purveyor for "lawn food!" Here are a few of the statistics from this venerable bastion of conservative thought ( in case you just thought this was another one of the tree-hugging, latte sucking articles).
  • Americans have become obsessed with grass.  When you add up the country's 80 million home lawns and over 16,000 golf courses you get close to 50 million acres of cultivated turf in the U.S.
  • Americans are spraying 67 million pounds of synthetic chemicals on their grass every year.
  • More that 170 Canadian cities have banned lawn pesticides -- especially on public spaces.
  • Denmark, Norway and Sweden have banned 2,4-D ( a common chemical -- often known as agent Orange in lawn herbicides)
  • In 2009, the European Parliament passed laws banning 22 pesticides that can cause cancer or disrupt human hormones or reproduction. 
  • Conservative estimates suggest that 72 million birds die in the U.S. of pesticide poisoning each year. 
  • Wood Thursh is down by 48%, Bobwhites by 80%, Bobolinks by 90% and we almost lost the Bluebirds -- but thanks to recent efforts by individuals to provide nesting boxes and assist them they are slowly coming back.  
 It is important to note that not only do these lawn chemicals kill "weeds" like clover which naturally sets nitrogen in the soil, but their use requires the addition of artificial sources of nitrogen to be added which in turn run off into the lakes and streams causing other problems like algae blooms that in turn suck the oxygen out of the water causing fish and plants to die and creating huge dead zones. All of these events have cascading effects which often cannot even be predicted.

If we want to save our planet, its pollinators and ultimately ourselves we need to start putting in native plants that will make your yard a haven for caterpillars, butterflies and birds.  For us in Tennessee that means plant joe-pye weed, rudbeckia and other species like Black-eyed Susans that bloom all summer long, Button-bush, Butterfly Weed and swamp milkweed.  We need to put in vegetable gardens and experience the joy of fresh natural organic vegetables.  Consider feeding the birds until we get enough native plants for them to live on again.   Their populations have been decimated over the past decades of habitat destruction and poisoning. Don't eradicate a weed until you are sure that it doesn't happen to be the one plant a single species of butterfly relies on.

Read the rest of the article and learn how to bring back beneficial insects, plants and animals into our environment.  Read the article and let its information change your behavior.  and if you really must kill a weed -- skip the Round Up and use this natural formula.  

1gallon of vinegar
1 cup of salt
1 Tbsp. of soap

This simple spray works as well as the toxic versions -- just be sure to spray it on a dry day when it will have time to work -- if it rains it can become to dilute to have effect!