In this list, I share my top five Sow Good Seeds columns of 2021. My hope is that they may invite you to see yourself more deeply in the context of this planet, to consider a perspective you may not have had previously, to plant some seeds in your mind about how our lives are so intricately interwoven with the natural world.
My editor-husband always encourages me to find photos that include people for my columns, because it draws the reader in more. But why, I ask, when flowers and trees and gardens are so pretty on their own?
He has a point, and not just regarding the images. Writing about flowers and trees and gardens is a necessary and important endeavor. I’ve come to understand, though, that humans are most likely to act or to change when we see how our lives are involved in and impacted by the topic at hand.
So, I hope that these writings have helped to draw the connections between you and the flowers, the solar panels, the soil, the apples, the seasons, the earth, and the future.
5. We need to talk about tomorrow — July 19, 2021
“What stuck with me, more than the somewhat-predictable family dynamics and questionable plot holes, was the call from future generations for help. As a last resort, they fall back on the people who have the capacity to do something, though at great personal and global cost. I don’t know what the next thirty or fifty years will bring – not intergalactic war, I hope – but it makes me wonder: what will those who come after me think as they look at the state of their world? Am I doing what I can to ensure their quality of life (at least) and their survival (at most), even if it costs me? Will they wish that I had lived my life differently?”
4. Falling for Autumn — October 8, 2021
“Because a kitchen without breakfast food makes for sad mornings, I baked a big batch of muffins and stashed half in the freezer. Because an entire loaf of store-bought bread had gotten moldy, I challenged myself to bake my own (and I’ll be darned if I let this one go bad). Because sloppy joes were requested for dinner and I happened to have the day off, I baked buns from scratch, saving some for later.
“As much as I love being in the kitchen, I’m honestly impressed with myself. I don’t expect to have many unscheduled afternoons, and boundless energy for stirring and measuring and kneading. But it’s something.
“I’ll enjoy those muffins in a month or two, as I pull on my jacket and wrap a thick scarf around my neck, checking the weather to see if snow is in the forecast. As I chew, tasting the early-fall apples and late-summer carrots mingling with nutmeg and raisins, maybe I’ll be inspired to pull out the mixing bowl.”
3. Of Lumbar and Labor — April 9, 2021
“I want to feel better, eat healthier, lose a few pounds, yes. But, I realized underneath those goals is a desire to be able to care well for our land, to sustain ourselves by growing and preserving our own food, and to contribute to the ecological healing of the planet on our suburban plot. We also hope to grow our family with children.
“I have plans to expand the garden, transition the lawn to a no-mow alternative, add elements like water catchment and tree guilds, and more, to move toward a permaculture system on our property. I get excited when I imagine all the possibilities, and I love daydreaming about these ideas. All of these things will require an input of time and money — neither of which we’re flush with at the moment, but working in phases will help with that. The bigger challenge is that these projects will also require an input of labor on my part, and I’m not certain that my body is currently up to the task.”
2. The Ecological Case for Smaller Families — February 18, 2021
“I’d like to make the case, on behalf of the planet, that less might be more. I am not a parent, and I don’t know if I can or will be, but I want to be conscious of the impact of my choices on the earth in terms of family size.
“Let me acknowledge at this point that parenthood, families, and the decisions around these issues are extremely personal, intimate, and sensitive. Many of my friends and family have started families; I love them deeply, and I wouldn’t dream of passing judgment on them. Others I know yearn for a child, but that desire has not yet been fulfilled. Some have chosen to adopt. Still others live rich and full lives without children.
“But for myself and my husband, should we find ourselves in a position to grow our family, I know it will be small.”
1. Love the planet, love your body. Period. — May 7, 2021
“It’s a taboo subject – hushed up, euphemized, and glossed over with glib remarks about unhinged emotions and chocolate cravings. But it’s a real thing, a natural process that takes place in real bodies.
“And, it produces a real amount of waste – plastic and non-biodegradable – every month. On average, someone who menstruates uses around 11,000 pads and tampons in their lifetime. Those products end up in landfills, where they will last far beyond our memories.
“Not to mention, the menstrual product industry has gone to great lengths with the advancements in plastics to make periods “discreet,” odor-free, and sanitized. In other words: invisible and non-discussable. Additionally, the convenience of disposable products creates a cycle of purchasing ever more to replace what’s been used.”
Deborah Haak-Frost is the Caretaker for Community Engagement at GilChrist Retreat Center in Three Rivers, and volunteers at World Fare and with *culture is not optional, a Three Rivers-based community development organization.
Any views or opinions expressed in “Sow Good Seeds” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors.