Living Within Your Climate

July 20th, 2008

Eberhardt wrote an interesting article on Living Within Mother Earth – Breaking the Bottled Water Habit that made me think a focus more on some thoughts I’ve had recently. He wrote about how bottled water is negative on us and the earth in many ways, along with how regular American city tap water is more regulated, safer and cheaper than bottled water.

Our family drinks tap water that is run through a Brita filter, which makes it taste better and makes it even cleaner for a negligible cost per gallon. We do buy bottled water when we’re traveling for the convenience and the bottle. Our kids work very well with the smaller Evian bottles because they have a cap that is easy for small children to drink from without spilling. As a result, we frequently wash and re-use those bottles until the covers on the caps break off. If you’re concerned about the “hazards” of re-using those disposable PET water bottles, I suggest reading an article on that shed some interesting light on this urban myth.

These thoughts about water usage got me thinking more about how people in America live in many different climates, but try to pretend that they are all in the same climate. For example, Las Vegas is in a desert. Try telling that to the people who live there. When we traveled from South Dakota to California, I found it very strange that the Nevada cities of Mesquite and Las Vegas both looked very much like they were in Florida. They had palm trees and lush lawns. All in a desert.

When we owned a home in south Minneapolis, I wanted to grow wildflowers native to that area in the yard. I was rather naïve about these plants’ life cycles and how they really looked as they developed. I planted a lot of mixed seeds in April and May. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that these wildflowers all look like overgrown grass for their first year, instead of the colorful flowers I expected. It was definitely uglier than I anticipated.

Like most municipalities, there is a city ordinance that states that grass cannot be higher than eight inches in Minneapolis. So, at the end of August, I received a threatening letter from the city about my “grass” being too long and requiring that I cut it. I suspected that the city officials are not sympathetic to residents returning native plants to their yards, so I decided to save my energy and not fight them.

The blessing I received from planting these native flowers was that the local bee and other insect populations grew considerably in my yard, an indication that the spirits were pleased. I also found that some wildflowers had established themselves enough before the mowing to come back and bloom the next year. Many didn’t make it, so I had empty spots to fill, but quite a few returned.

Since then, I saw people in South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California all trying to grow the same grass lawns that people try to grow in Minnesota. Those grasses don’t grow well in Minnesota without significant watering, so they take even more in these drier western states. It is this way all around the country.

We live in the Los Angeles area now, which has a Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. So why is so much of the Los Angeles area covered with grassy lawns? Such huge amounts of water are wasted here in the Valley just on lawn and garden irrigation.

I am a firm believer in living within your climate. If you live in a desert, have a yard with desert plants, like cacti and desert-loving grasses. If you live in a Mediterranean climate, grow evergreen trees, shrubs like myrtle and laurel, along with Garrigue vegetation and sweet-smelling herbs, such as rosemary and thyme. If we owned our home in Los Angeles, this is what we would be replacing the grass lawn with.

If someone does not like having native or acclimated plants in their lives, they should seriously consider moving. If you like palm trees and lush lawns, move to Florida. Don’t try to force the land around you to conform to what you wish it to be (or what your neighbors think it should be). That is disrespectful of the local spirits.

Instead, change yourself to live in harmony with those spirits and that land. In Los Angeles, we have become more conscious of water conservation, since it is not as plentiful in the summer as central Minnesota or even South Dakota. For example, I wash my car with using only about 1 gallon of water without using a hose. There are waterless car washes available, but Los Angeles is not a desert.

We do not need to apologize for living as humans, as some people suggest. We don’t need to eliminate our “carbon footprint” or reduce the resources we use to zero. We are as much a part of this earth as any other organism. We have the right to use reasonable amounts of water, electricity, petroleum, etc. We need to understand that if we waste, we hurt ourselves in many ways. Mother Earth has been here and prospered long before humans existed and will still be here when we are but mere fossils.

We need to acknowledge that we are a legitimate part of this earth and that we live in a particular climate. That climate gives us certain things in abundance and other things are scarce or rare. We need to accept that situation and live within it if we want to delay the time we become fossils and distant memories in the Akashic record.

When I travel the country, I hope that someday I will be able to identify about what part of the country someone’s house is in by the look and vegetation of their yard. It would save immense amounts of resources, especially water, time and energy put into maintaining plants in areas they are not meant to live. The people would be living in harmony with the land and its spirits around them. And this would open their eyes to all the beauty that is naturally around them and help them to abandon the idea that a beautiful yard has only one appearance.

8 Responses to “Living Within Your Climate”

  1. Annette Says:

    Marvelous post! And thank you for the sidenote about water bottles. We do the tap-water/Brita thing too, but like you we purchase bottled water for convenience (traveling, especially, and plus I’ve found that my daughter will drink more water when given a water bottle — I suppose it’s the “cool” factor. She’s four…)… And speaking of gardening in harmony with nature, Or NOT, I find it hilarious how people rake up leaves and put them on the curb to be picked up by Yard Debris…and then go buy bags of mulch to put around their shrubs… Hmmm.

  2. Morninghawk Says:

    Yes, I find that quite strange too. Some people seem to want to find ways to spend money on things that are free or nearly so.

  3. Diana Luciano Grayfox Says:

    This is such an important topic. Thank you for posting about it. I completely agree with you about living within our climate. Coming from an Italian family tradition, we had to make many adjustments when the family immigrated from Italy. I am told that the bisnonni (great grandmothers) began to learn as much as they could about America’s native fauna as soon as they arrived. Things that our family had used before was no longer readily available. Today we still use some specifically Italian ingredients in our work, but for the most part, we use native plants and commune with native animals and the genii loci of the New World, Terranova.

  4. Morninghawk Says:

    I bet that must have been quite an experience for them to learn how to cook with new herbs, vegetables, fruits, etc. The nice thing about us moving to California is that there is a much larger variety of locally grown food available. In the Midwest, there is some variety, but the main things grown there are corn, soybeans, sugar beets and cows. Everything else, it seems, is grown in California.

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  7. Celtic Crystal Says:

    Thanks for this… makes me think that one this tropical island with half a year of rain we shouldn’t be without water. We are plagued by floods in the wet season and drought in the dry season.
    They haven’t figured out as yet how to trapp all that water properly and store it for later. There are dams, but the water flow keeps changing due to indiscriminate mountain developments that destry to mountain wildlife. Do you think the government cares…No…its progress.

  8. Morninghawk Says:

    Well, Nature has a way of teaching us. It’s just a matter of how many lessons we need before we get it. Unfortunately, many (including those in power) need to be taught often before they understand.

    I’m hopeful that a cultural shift is starting to take shape. I think of our economic catastrophe as being the Tower that frees us (violently) from the bondage of the material Devil. Freedom from the bondage of materialism gives rise to an awakening to the Star, the Moon and the Sun.

    I just hope that people learn to make the leap to the hope of the Star instead of just letting themselves get caught in the catastrophe of the Tower over and over again.

    But nature will keep trying until we get it. The Gods are infinitely patient. It is us who will suffer the consequences if we don’t learn.

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