ADF Dedicant Path: Nature Awareness 2 (Essay Prep.)
I began my nature awareness task by following Dangler’s advice to locate a special nature spot to visit regularly. I selected the nature preserve where I like to go jogging. It was an area I was already familiar with, but I hadn’t previously taken the time to really get in touch with the nature there. The nature-awareness activity forced me to explore the area outside of jogging, take note of the flora and fauna there and just experience the environment without my headphones on. This pursuit started out alright, but as soon as the weather became cold, I stopped going. I found it easier to visit my own back yard during the winter than I did the nature preserve. When the weather warmed up again, I explored a few other areas away from home and returned to my previously-selected spot a few times, but I found that my bond with the Earth Mother was strongest in my own yard. At the end of the day, the nature I found out and about in the city wasn’t much different from what I had at home already. Everything around here is still “city” no matter what natural-sounding title they give to the place. So I returned home and started forging a bond with the land spirits on my own land. I did a small land-bidding ritual and took up the task of gardening for the first time in my life. Even though only a few of my seeds sprouted and a cute baby rabbit ate most of my only kale plant, my time spent working the land has increased my bond with the Earth more than any other activity over the past year. The Oak tree I recently planted in my front yard is the most meaningful symbol of my new-found connection with the land. This weekend, I intend to purchase several starter plants for my garden in hopes that they work out better for me than starting from seeds. After all, my transplanted blackberry plant is still hanging in there. I have plans, when time and money allow, to make my own yard the natural retreat that I seek and which the city parks have denied me.
Questions from Dangler’s Through the Wheel of the Year:
1. Where does your trash go?
It goes to one of two landfills.
2. Are there options for recycling that you’re making use of? Why or why not?
I make use of my city’s single-stream recycling, which offers a major perk of convenience. I have struggled with pretty severe OCD-related anti-hoarding for much of my life. This results in a compulsive need to dispose of excess stuff in my environment as soon as possible. When recycling was a more obscure concept (i.e. no idea where to go, sorting confusion, not many people did it, etc), saving stuff to recycle until I could figure out where to go with it was nearly impossible. I tried, and during my better phases succeeded, but over all it became a huge source of stress. I especially struggled with cardboard boxes. Oh my word, those boxes. Once the internet took over as shopping-place-of-choice, boxes were everywhere all the time. And I threw them away. Then I would feel terribly guilty about not recycling them. The single-stream recycling program has alleviated so much of that anxiety.
I still struggle with items that can’t go in the curb-side bin — especially clothing. I am much better about this as of late, however. I keep my giveaway items in a bag to accumulate for as long as I can bear it, then I ask my husband to take it to a thrift store. Knowing that I can count on him to take my giveaways almost as soon as I ask alleviates much of my stress. I don’t have to worry about fitting it into my own schedule, which is usually what leads me to dump my unwanted stuff in the nearest trash bin. I know it sounds silly. When I am in a more stable state of mind, I can’t figure out what my problem is.
As for other forms of recycling that I make use of, I tried to recycle plastic bags for a while. Believe it or not, I was holding onto all the bags until I could take them to the nearest store to recycle. This was easier for me to handle than clothing recycling because I already make trips to the grocery store as part of my regular schedule. Unfortunately, my husband and I both noticed how much trash was mixed in with the bags at the place I usually went to. I doubt anyone takes the time to sort it out before recycling. I’ve also heard rumor that some retail stores don’t actually recycle the contents in bins labeled “recycle.” Even if I just went with it and hoped for the best, the bins were often overflowing when I went, so I couldn’t use them. I’m trying to figure out an alternative for the bag situation. I try not to use too many bags in the first place. I need to get better about bringing reusable bags with me to places. I do like to have some plastic bags on hand at home because I reuse them myself for various things. I should probably figure out alternatives for that as well, but you know – baby steps.
3. Are there steps you can take to help reduce the amount of refuse you create?
Besides what I already mentioned in question 2, yes, there is still so much I can do. I read stories about people who produce hardly any waste and I aspire to be one of them, but it’s a slow going process. I want to start composting and my husband is on board with that idea, so hopefully that will be my next eco-friendly step.
4. What happens to your wastewater?
It goes to a wastewater-treatment facility, where 95 percent of the pollutants are removed before being sent into the South Platte River.
5. What rivers are nearby? Do you have a connection to them? What sort of
The South Platte River is the major river of this area. A park near the river is one of a small handful of nature-spots in close proximity to me (i.e. within a 15 minute drive). I have taken walks by the river and filmed one of my recent youtube videos by it. My walks are usually pretty short because when it’s not too cold, there are too many bugs. I have yet to become familiar with all the seasons in the park and I am hoping to find just the right one to really appreciate the area without being too distracted by cold or bugs.
6. Describe the basic climate of your area. Is it often wet and rainy? Dry and
sunny? Wet and sunny? How has this affected the kinds of plants and
animals in the area?
Denver has a semi-arid climate and more sunny days than one would expect for a city near the Rocky Mountains. Apparently, we have enough sunny days to put Miami to shame. Incidentally, I remember sitting in a class last year when my professor remarked how the sun here is particularly obnoxious – that in no other place was she so blinded by it so often.
The most prevalent wildlife in the Denver-metro area includes geese, coyotes, and prairie dogs. The nature preserve where I go jogging is a coyote habitat and there are several open-space prairie dog habitats near by. Closer to the foothills, near Boulder, the diversity of wildlife increases. According to the city of Boulder website, there are 59 documented mammal species and 100 species of birds in the area.
7. What visible effects have humans had on the natural landscapes around
I am sure there are more sophisticated answers to this question than my own, but to me the answer is as simple as urbanization. Everything is city here. They could do so much more to make the parks in the area better retreats from the surrounding metropolis. There are too many industrial areas and boring open spaces with uninspiring views of even more city. Unless I go to the foothills near Boulder, there is no escaping the urban-industrial ambience.
8. Where do the winds usually come from? Are there different winds at
different times of the year?
The winds come primarily from the South except in April, they decide to mix it up and come from the North. :p
9. What major crops are grown in your region? Why are these particular crops
Hay, corn, wheat, sunflowers, potatoes, cabbage, onions, peaches, apples, and cantaloupe are the major crops in Colorado.
10. Where does your power come from (i.e. nuclear, solar, coal, gas, etc.)?
46% Coal, 24% Natural Gas, 12% Wind, 12% Nuclear, and the rest from an assortment of other sources.