Thursday, May 29, 2008

lawns & learning

turning grassy lawns into vegetable gardens seems like such an obvious solution to the rising food prices.

but many people who are burdened with heavy mortgages are too busy working to tend a garden. they need a low-maintenance yard. sometimes, they spray chemicals on their lawns to keep them weed free. these pesticides become part of our environment, running into the drains and the rivers. these perfect looking lawns aren't really that friendly for rabbits. i imagine that the baby bunny prefers clover.

mowing lawns: noisy, violent, polluting. expensive, too (gas & mower maintenance). i know it's easy for me to talk: i have no lawn.

(i don't want to be a judgemental eco-fanatic. i am just trying to find the way of peaceful co-existence and enjoyment, rather than fighting against the natural world. i am seeking that lifestyle that is slower, easier, more beautiful, and less expensive.)

in order to get my hands into soil, i haul dirt up the stairs in heavy buckets and crates, and plant seeds. a growing collection of containers is appearing on the ledge out a window.

maybe there is a way that people with more free time could exchange work for a share in a yard of a too-busy person who owns land but can't find the time to grow food? in a progressive town like this, i imagine someone wouldn't mind the idea.

it makes me crazy how illogical our society has become. fertile soil under our noses, but we drive to the store to buy food that has been driven all the way from california, or shipped from south america.

of course i'm a fan of italian olive oil and colombian coffee, but maybe we could at least shift towards more growing it near home.

it also makes me crazy how much education i've had and that i know so little about gardening. there was such a long time that i thought it was uninteresting. but it's crucial. how useful is a master's in math, really? i'd rather know so many other things, but maybe until now i just wasn't ready to appreciate what is really useful.

i'm so glad that i've left the job where my life's work was teaching algebra...such a useless suffering inflicted upon uninterested minds. it has its place, but i certainly would not say that it should be a requirement for any college graduate. what a waste to spend 20 years of my life teaching kids to factor, how to find the vertex of a parabola, how to interpret the slope and y-intercept of a line. Even calculus! the product rule, the derivative of the sine. Why??? i am glad i know it, and it's nice to pull out some trigonometry when drawing up plans for a bench. but if i look back at my years of education and list what i learned that really mattered, it would probably really be shocking.

if i ever return to teaching, i want to teach something that really matters. and in order to do that, i must learn what really matters. i think that is the stage i am in now. learning.

it continues to amaze me how my views keep changing. i am interested in ideas and lifestyles that i used to scoff at. i'm more open to natural medicine. i've stopped eating meat, and am questioning the ethics of eating the eggs of chickens raised in miserable conditions (does an organic dozen represent less suffering than a conventional dozen?). rather than racing around busily, i want to do less, be more centered, more at peace with myself. i want to shift steadily in the direction of a contemplative. if i slow down enough, maybe i will find God in my sprouting carrot seedlings, in the grain of wood that i sand, in the woodchuck that watches me warily.

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