Category Archives: Environment

Thanks for the (Food) Memories

This is Blog Action Day  and the topic is food – my favorite!!  Website -http://blogactionday.org/  I am sure others will talk the politics of food, but I want to talk about food memories. (Cue the song from Cats here.)

The ambrosial experience of sweet corn fresh off the stalk is so memorable that when you buy (or pick) your first dozen, you begin to feel the pleasure of it before the actual consumption. After consuming several ears of the stuff earlier this summer, I watched Beekeeper cutting sweet corn off the cob to put in the freezer (hey, he likes to do it-what can I say). It always brings back the memory of sitting in my Aunt Babe’s kitchen as a child, watching her cut corn off the cob. She always called me “honey”. A pleasant food memory linking one generation to another.

A young Aunt Babe, my uncle Bill and my dad Verne

When we returned from a Pacific Northwest visit the end of September, we found this pleasant surprise in the otherwise finished garden…

A beauty

a memory for the eyes as well as the palate.

Anyone who has ever bitten into a ripe tomato off the vine, bending over to prevent the juice from staining your shirt, or the tongue-curling sweetness of a sun-drenched strawberry, or the first red raspberry knows how the taste, smell and sight of such bounty are programmed into your brain. All you need to do is think about them and you begin to salivate.

Food memories are ingrained in us, whether we are conscious of it or not – even before birth! Here’s an interesting feature from NPR that highlights research published in the journal Pediatrics stating babies in the womb develop taste preferences from what their mothers eat.

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/08/139033757/babys-palate-and-food-memories-shaped-before-birth

So I have lots of good memories connected with good, healthy food. I hope you do, too.

A Quiet Revolution

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

There has been a lot of First Amendment activity lately and I, for one, am glad to see it happening. Complacency has not completely taken over this country yet. Whether it is Wall Street protesters or Tea Party rallies, folks are immobilizing to make a difference in the future of their country. Here in Coshocton County, we have a revolution going on, albeit a far quieter one. We are improving our community by trying to change the way people eat.

Tonight there will be an open house at our brand new local food coop, Local Bounty.This indoor local products cooperative was produced out of Slow Food Coshocton discussions, the wishes of farmers market customers and vendors, comments of cooking class attendees, and myriad conversations among those of us who believe that making locally produced, high quality food available to our citizens will benefit our community medically, socially, and economically. Our children can have a brighter future.

I will be talking more about this community movement in the future, both here and on the Slow Food Coshocton website. But for now, if you are a Coshocton resident, please come to the open house tonight, 6 p.m., the old Scoops building at Lake Park. Local Bounty will be open Thursday and Fridays, 2-6 and Saturdays 10-6.

There are a lot of ways to revolutionize the world. This is ours.

(By the way, this is my 100th post here at Fishing For Words and I can’t think of a better subject for it!)

It’s National Farmers Market Week

That’s right, folks. It is the week that farmers’ markets are highlighted around the nation for their contribution to a healthy food system.  Since 2000, the number of farmers markets has grown 150%, from 2,863 in 2000 to 7,175 in 2011.

Not only do these local growers provide locally grown, seasonal, nutritious food at a reasonable price, they also provide a place for community interaction, teach people how to prepare the food, boost the local economy, and improve local health. They even inspire others to grow their own vegetables and fruits.

One of our local farmers markets

To find one in your area, go to http://www.localharvest.org/ or the USDA site, http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/. This is the height of the season when so many things are available. Tomatoes, green beans, carrots, beets, zucchini (believe me, they practically give that stuff away because it produces so much) honey, jams, and jellies are all available. Don’t buy it in the grocery where it has been shipped in from somewhere else. Find out what a tomato is supposed to taste like. Support your local grower; keep your local economy thriving.

Thanks to all the growers and vendors in our farmers markets and local farm stands! Keep up the good work.

In the Footsteps of Ghandi and Martin Luther King To Defend a Garden

Some of you have probably heard of the Oak Park, Michigan mother of six, Julie Bass, who could possibly spend 3 months in jail for having a vegetable garden (nice, neat raised beds) in her front lawn. If not, Google it and bring yourself up to date. Seems their city officials don’t know how to read their own ordinance…

Instead of expounding on what I think is an absolutely ludicrous situation, I am going to link you to No Unsacred Place  and the post, “Sustainable Living as Civil Disobedience” .

http://nature.pagannewswirecollective.com/2011/07/12/sustainable-living-as-civil-disobedience/

Please ignore the “pagan” on the website  if that bothers you, and keep reading because what the author, Alison Leigh Lilly, says has nothing to do with that. It is a thoughtful, insightful article on ordinary citizens responding with their consciences against nonsensical, outdated ideas.

You might say, “Come on, this isn’t civil rights, or the independence of India.” No, but it is about FOOD which we all NEED to live. It is about the right to grow your own heathy food (six kids eat a lot) if you choose, and it is about one person having to destroy that food because of a neighbor’s idea of aesthetics. This is about what happens if our transportation system gets bogged down, no deliveries to the grocery stores, but no one was allowed to grow their own food (i.e. food security), because it didn’t look “normal” in a front yard.

Well, I said I wasn’t going to go on about this, so I will just ask you to read about Ms. Bass and how she is not going away quietly. I, for one, am cheering her on. I think Ghandi and Dr. King would too.

What I Have Learned From A Robin

The American robin, technically a thrush, is common to most parts of the lower forty-eight states. Once we exclaim to our family and friends that we have seen the” first robin of spring”, we usually forget about them.  We pay them little attention. That is OK with them because they don’t pay a lot of attention to us either, unless you get too close to a nest or a fledgling scooting along the ground. That causes a bit of a ruckus.

Robin's egg blue!

Having several robins nest around our cabin has made me appreciate them for several reasons:

One, the females are amazing nest builders. They go around building nests in a perfect cup shape with the “wrist” of one wing. Sometimes, she works hard only to realize it’s just not right, so off she goes to build another.  All is not lost though; I have seen other bird species (after a little change in decorating) happily settle into the neighborhood in the robin’s old apartment.

Two, I know I have less “bad”  bugs because I have so many industrious robins combing my yard and garden for juicy invertebrates. Granted, they eat beneficial earthworms, but really, there is enough to share. And I have learned to net my blueberries.

Third, I love how confidently they strut around-unless they are feeding a fledgling. Then they just look harried as the youngster demands to be fed, and fed, and fed. What parent wouldn’t identify with that? I have been known to call out to the demanding little cheeper, “Grow up and get your own worms! Your mom’s tired!”

What I have learned from watching robins is that there is grace in the common and ordinary. There is no angst, no self-doubt, no wondering if their feathers make them look fat. They respond to the seasons without complaint, pour complete effort into nest-making, raise their young with great devotion, and still find time to sing a sweet song.

I’m glad I share a name with these dignified birds that remind me to find  beauty in my everyday living.

For more information on robins and other birds, check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, http://www.allaboutbirds.org.

Living at the edge of Appalachia – Reasons Why

Even as I have been going crazy with record rain, little sun, and not being able to get in the garden, I have moments when the beauty of where I live fills my spirit. It is what informs and shapes my poetry and our life. It is-

ethereal,

Fog in the valley

charming,

Wild daffodils at the old cabin site

humorous, 

One slightly tee'd off frog

full of wonder,
 

What are these little swimmers from the vernal pool?

a place to play,

For kids of ALL ages

and work,

tasty,

and, at the end of the day,

where I belong.

This Robin Doesn’t Care About Earth Day…

 Ha! You thought the “robin” in the title was me, didn’t you? Nope, it was my friend here who prompted my muse for today. She-I think “she” because she flew up to the nest built on the corner of our cabin-was just doing her thing in the cold rain which was to chomp on luscious earthworms. Survival, procreating, and a little singing-yep, that’s pretty much it. And, as Earth warms, moving a little more north every winter. Little everyday things to stay in balance with her surroundings.

Chalk it up to ANOTHER gray day, my frustration at not being able to get my onions in the ground, or just old-crone-grumpiness,

my initial reaction to the day was, “With the politics and greed in the world, nothing ever changes, why celebrate?” But seeing that robin, and being aware of the other critters in our woods, including Beekeeper’s girls, I realize that things change, adapt, balance a little at a time. Not fast enough for me, I grant you that. But that is my perception, not the Earth’s.  Humans too, little by little, are doing small things that add up.

  • Like folks who grow their own veggies, or buy locally from someone who does, or who promote local, good, sustainable food practices like our friends at Slow Food.
  • Or people who bring their old glasses and put them in a Lions Club box for someone less fortunate, saving landfill space and someone’s sight.
  • Or folks who send their cell phones to http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/ or to HopeLine for domestic violence victims.

And on, and on. So, I do celebrate this day and every day the small gestures of care my fellow humans perform for the Earth. I am truly grateful and still a little bit hopeful.

Just read My Spiritual Journey by the Dalai Lama. Such a wise man; just looking into his eyes on the cover picture gives you a sense of calm. Here is a quote from him about the environment: 

“…while we are here we should try to have a good heart and to make something positive and useful of our lives. Whether we live just a few years or a whole century, it would be truly regrettable and sad if we were to spend that time aggravating the problems that afflict other people, animals, and the environment. The most important thing is to be a good human being.”

…or a good robin.

Have a happy, hopeful Earth Day.

Little Pleasures and Big Treasures in the Spring Woods

As we toggle between cold spells and balmy spring days, everyone is cheered by the flowering shrubs, trees, and bulb flowers bursting into bloom around our neighborhoods. What many of us don’t notice are the other important harbingers of spring, the beautiful little wildflowers that are in the woods and along the roadways. These tiny wonders provide some of the first nectar pollinators use to get through until larger sources arrive.

Just this week I found several (forgive the pic quality-I just had my cellphone) as I took a walk.

Yellow Corydalis

the ever so brief coltsfoot, 

Hard to think I pull this next one up in my garden all the time…
 
Delicate chickweed

And a little blue number no bigger than a fairy’s eye that I could not identify (if you can ID it, please comment!),

We are now being serenaded during our morning coffee by many avian vocalists. The spring songs are melodious and pleasant to listen to-until we startle our resident pileated woodpeckers. Their cackle can’t be mistaken! I get a kick out those gargantuan rascals, but never thought of them as a keystone species in the woods until I read this post by Ohio naturalist, Jim McCormac.  They really are a treasure in our woods. Check out Jim’s blog. For a close-up view of a pileated, revisit my post about Bella, a woodpecker being banded in Seattle.