I live in the heart of a city, but when I look outside my window I breathe in the blue of the sky and the towering elm trees that create a canopy over my street. I live in the heart of a city, but I am exactly one block away from the river and a trail system that winds through the city; a trail system that is wild and natural and allows me to breathe deeply and feel myself unwind from the car-tar-noise-screech of the too fast, too loud and overly competitive pace of urban life.
I grew up in a small town and appreciate the convenience of urban life. I can go for long bike rides through the trees, hear birds chirp and not worry about coming face to face with a bear (and yes this happened to me on more than one occasion when I was a young girl). I love that there are a vast array of restaurants and I can have Vietnamese for lunch and then sushi for dinner or celebrate my birthday over a yummy oriental vegan dinner.
My favourite reason for loving urban living is that there are more than a few organic stores so I can choose locally grown food as much as possible. Yes, this hippy urban girl eats organic about 95% of the time. It wasn’t always the case and I can still remember the exact moment in time when the lightbulb went off in my head with regards to what I choose to put into my body. It happened a few summers ago when we bought our house.
I always thought that I had been gifted with a black thumb. Though I spent my childhood picking weeds out of the gardens of my grandparents, my parents and even a few aunts and uncles, I had never gardened as an adult. I could barely keep an apartment plant alive and couldn’t imagine spending my time with my hands in the dirt.
And then we bought our house just months after our twins had died and I remember standing in the backyard staring at the expanse of neglected dirt and patchy grass and wondering what on earth I had got myself into. I had bought a house but it didn’t feel like a home; it felt like a disaster. We bought a house that was built in 1945 and a yard that had been neglected for a good 20 years. I looked at my black thumbs and sighed.
After a trip to the hardware store (and then another and another still and over the years many more still), I dug and raked and poked holes and filled a shelf with gardening books. I started frequenting greenhouses and googling websites. I dug my hands into rich black earth and felt the heartbeat of mother earth reflected in the quiet sound of my own heart. I felt connected to something deep and wise as I planted seed after seed and watered and spent hours pulling back deep roots of scratchy weeds.
I watched spiders build webs and butterflies dance as birds dove and pulled long worms out of that same earth. Bumblebees sucked from the flowers that sprang up smiling towards the sun. Ladybugs walked daintily across rose thorns, regal in their step. Vegetables grew plump and bright colours filled the spaces of brown.
And then I had my lightbulb moment — it started with a carrot and grew into a lifestyle change that continues to grow as the years go by.
I pulled a carrot out of the ground, washed it with the garden hose, took a bite and was suddenly transported backwards into my childhood. This was a carrot. I remembered the taste suddenly, the taste of a carrot, the sweet juicy crunch. And I wondered what I had been eating all this time — what was that woody taste of oversized carrots that came wrapped in plastic?
In that moment I made a choice. This earth is my home, and if I give her love and respect, if I sink my hands into her and work with her, together we can create life and beauty and wonder. I celebrate the earth every single day when I look outside my window at the shade she gives me. I celebrate the earth when I run or bike and breathe in her scent. I celebrate the earth every single day when I make conscious choices when it comes to the products I buy and bring into my home. I celebrate the earth every single day when I choose love, peace and awareness.
Happy Earth Day … today, yesterday and tomorrow.
“home” © Darlene J Kreutzer