… on the far side of the hill
By Jeff Salter
“Green, green … I’m goin’ away … to where the grass is greener still”.
Not sure why that New Christy Minstrels lyric popped into my head today, because it’s not actually related to the type of ‘green’ in this week’s topic: ecology and environment.
But it gives me an intro … and you get to hear a terrific song.
While I’m not a fanatical environmentalist, I find two distinct feelings when I examine the ‘green’ history of our nation:
(1) deeply betrayed by those callous exploiters who wantonly destroyed millions of square miles of land for natural resources like timber or minerals … without any thought or effort to allow the land to ever be useful again
(2) incredibly grateful for those forward-thinking conservationists (like Teddy Roosevelt, who set aside 170 million acres … and John Muir, “Father of the National Parks”) who protected some of the most beautiful tracts of natural resources in the world.
My parents were raised during the Great Depression. Even though they had vastly different socio-economic family situations, both Dad and Mom had that mentality of the Greatest Generation: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”. And that was pretty much how we were raised in our single-income family during the 1950s and early 60s.
It seems strange in a time when people buy disposable covers for brooms and mops, even soap dispensers have batteries, and hardly any containers are directly re-used. [Remember when you’d get two cents for returning cola bottles? When empty milk bottles were traded for full ones?]
Back then, if you could afford an appliance, you’d use it for 25 years or more. Now a $2000 computer gizmo lasts about three years before it’s effectively obsolete.
While I’m not a wild-eyed tree-hugger, per se, I’ve always been in love with the outdoors and always appreciated the beauty and splendor of natural environments. As a kid, I played outdoors unless bad weather forced me inside. We lived in a sparsely-populated neighborhood with many square blocks of virgin woods. You could walk through woods for miles to the south without finding an inhabitant (and you’d cross only one gravel road). To the north, you could go five or six blocks without crossing but one street with any traffic. To both our east and west – except for one neighbor on each side – there were several more blocks of glorious woods. And you know what? During my entire childhood I don’t recall a single case of poison ivy. [Though I can ‘catch’ it now by merely looking in that direction.]
All I’m saying is that I grew up surrounded by woods and loved it. After too many decades of subdivision dwelling, I’m once again enveloped by woods and fields … and feel as though I’ve finally come home again.
I feel guilty about my current lack of enthusiasm for recycling. In the past, I’ve done more. We used to recycle plastic, beverage cans, and newspapers — we’ve had brief periods where the local entities made that much easier to do. Presently, however, we have to store, segregate, and then haul items to a depot about two miles away … and it’s only open during certain limited hours. I know I should recycle more, but it becomes one more ‘thing’ on my list. [Just getting our regular weekly garbage dispatched is hassle enough: I have to heave the bins up into the bed of my pick-up and drive some 700 feet to the ‘curb’ where the garbage truck picks-up.]
I want to do better about recycling and I’ll try harder. It’s the right thing to do. But it’s a lot easier when local government supplies color-coded bins and one has to roll them only about 30 paces to the curb.
For my own grandkids (and beyond): I hope the earth is allowed to regenerate enough resources for them to appreciate. I long for them to be able to experience the freedom and wonder of trees and fields. Two of my grandkids have just now gotten where they feel at ease playing in the woods by themselves … and I’m tickled pink. Well, um, I guess you could say I’m tickled ‘green’. Ha.
How do YOU feel about conservation? Recycling?
Have you ever visited any of America’s glorious National Parks?