Monday, February 23, 2009

For My Mom ...

Every morning I drink my coffee while watching the birds that visit our feeders. They usually come in pairs ... each couple choosing their spot after investigating the possibilities. Some like to hunt and peck on the ground ... others like to nibble from the hanging feeders. All of them seem to tolerate other species ... including my cat who sits on the porch and watches them.

Watching birds isn't new for me ... I first started enjoying them with my mother. For as long as I can remember, she has loved birds. She feeds them and has bird baths set up. She even makes bird houses and every year we wait for the babies to take their first flight.

So much of the person I am today is, in large part, due to my parents. As a child, their example shaped me and, even though I'd like to think that everything I do and think is unique to me, the truth is that my belief system comes from them. Including my passion for "green" living.

When I was a child, my mother cleaned house regularly (she still does). When the hardwood floors needed polishing, she'd apply the wax and then, rather than use an electric buffer to finish the job, she'd put old pairs of my father's socks on our feet and let us "ice skate" our way to a high gloss. We had fun polishing floors in a natural, "green" way.

Preservatives and toxins in food were never an issue in our house because my mom canned fruits and vegetables for us. Most of the produce she used came directly from a farm or our own garden. She bought locally and preserved food without chemicals. She also cooked for us ... wonderful, delicious meals made from scratch with fresh ingredients. They were healthy and always made with love.

Before it became a popular, green activity, my mom reused and repurposed many things. Shopping bags were saved and used to line her garbage pails. Plastic butter or cottage cheese containers were washed and used to store leftovers or to send food home with friends and family. And glass jars were either reused for canning or they found their way into my father's garage to hold nuts, bolts and all manner of small things.

It was a way of life for us ... for my mom. She didn't talk about living green ... she probably didn't think about it those terms. She just knew what was right. We lived a natural life and used what we had. We never wasted ... whether it was electricity or used containers.

In thinking about those times, I am reminded, once again, how our actions matter. Yes, using what we have and not wasting has a direct affect on the earth ... but it also serves as an example to others, especially the children in our lives. We can help our children develop a respect for the earth by our example. We can teach them, in fun ways, to live green.

Tomorrow is my mom's birthday. We are many miles apart but I'll be thinking of her ... and thanking her ... as I sit and watch the birds at my feeder.

Happy Birthday, Mom ... I love you!!