Earth Day at Backstreet 2019

The other day, a friend asked me if I would be writing something for Earth Day.

I sat down at my desk to review what I’d read of late…about the state of life on our planet…and my heart just hurt. 

“I don’t want to do this”, I thought.  “Why don’t I just post a few pretty pictures of flowers & bugs.”

On my bulletin board, I spotted 2 things that have been there a long long time…reminding me, darn it, that’s not who I am.

“A voice crying in the Wilderness” –Bob Mankoff

Thing One is this New Yorker cartoon by Bob Mankoff.  Yup, that’s me.   “Hey…you…we have to stop using toxic chemicals on our lawns & gardens …REALLY…NOW.” 

Here’s one of the recent headlines that compels me to say this out loud, yet again:

The Insect Apocalypse Is Here:  What does it mean for the rest of life on Earth?  *

In a nutshell…naturalists have sensed…& are now collating hard numbers to support…an alarming decline in the number of insects…everywhere…all of them…not just the charismatic ones we knew about like honey bees & monarch butterflies…but “a vast impoverishment of an entire insect universe.”*

Whether you are into the coolness of insects or not…know that humans literally cannot survive without the biological services that insects provide.

Two main drivers of this insect armageddon are…you guessed it…habitat loss & pesticide use.  

Those chemically-dependent monocultures we humans are so fond of…be they crop fields or turf grass lawns…will be the end of us yet. 

The warnings are clear…but in Newnan, chemical application warning signs continue to sprout in our neighborhoods like there’s no tomorrow.   On this beautiful, quiet Easter Sunday, I have been driven indoors by the noise of a neighbor clearing his lawn with a gas-powered  blower.

What, I ask you, will it take to wake people up to the terrible cost of the “perfect” lawn?

Let’s move on to Thing Two.

“The best thing one can do is to cultivate one’s garden.” –from Voltaire’s Candide.

This is a page from a date book I kept in the 1970’s.  For literally decades…when things looked dark…I would spot this quote & yeah…permission granted…outside I would head to look for comfort among the plants.   I will try again when my neighbor is finished .

The gardens I keep…at my home & at Backstreet Community Arts in Newnan…are tiny oases of biodiversity to support the bugs, bees, butterflies…what EO Wilson calls “the little things that run the world.”

They are also tonics for my aching heart aware that the natural world is diminishing…almost imperceptibly…“like the slow approach of twilight.”*

Some days cultivating your garden is the best you can do.

Happy Earth Day 2019…



Backstreet Sunflower with Grasshopper

You have to look real close at the center of the sunflower for the grasshopper.

We also had goldfinches at the coreopsis seeds…

…a hummingbird at the Heavenly Blue Morning Glory…

…buckeye butterflies on the white clover…

…2 kinds of skippers & some bumblebees at the cosmos & zinnias.

It was a good day.



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