The Kenwood Press
Publishers' Corner: 06/01/2020

A modest proposal



I’ve been doing a lot of gardening lately – yet another thing over which I have no control.

Water, weed, fertilize... fight! Gardening may be a relaxing outdoor pastime, but it’s also a battle against the elements. Rain, hail, scorching heat, birds, insects, rabbits, gophers… you name it, we’ve had it this spring. Seeds and vegetable starts have to be covered with bird netting secured with staples, which protects against certain critters, but makes it frustrating when it comes to pulling weeds because you have to undo it all. Then there are the sunflowers, which have a tendency to flop their heads all the way over to the ground when hit with the least little spray of water. I thought they would be a hearty, cheery bunch, and it might turn out that way, but they sure need a lot of coddling at the outset. Staking one or more of them up is an almost daily occurrence. “Don’t any of you have a spine?”

Did you know that an asparagus stalk can grow up to seven inches in one day? Amazing as that may be, weeds are even more so. It’s a documented fact (documented by me) that they can appear full-grown the moment a diligent gardener turns her back. I can almost hear them laughing. “Ha ha! She’s not looking; send in the reinforcements!”

Nature has a way of putting us in our place, in case you hadn’t noticed. I wonder if Earth has gotten tired of the way she’s been treated and decided to teach us a lesson with this Coronavirus. Think about it – it’s a sometimes-lethal virus that knows no geographic boundaries and at the moment has no known enemies. Since it was unleashed, almost all commercial activity has stopped as humanity shelters in place and attempts to starve it out of existence. People aren’t driving their cars or flying in airplanes, factories have been shuttered, and the world is on a pace to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to seven percent this year.

You know how this story goes, though. We’re opening up, moving about, re-starting our engines… Our will to survive, we fervently hope, will result in a vaccine, which will inevitably lead many of us back to our old polluting ways. But what if we don’t go back, or at least not all the way back? What if we work from home more, consume less, staycation rather than vacation? What if we cultivate green thumbs and our gardens produce plenty of fruits and veggies not just this year, but in the years to come?

Here’s a crazy idea… What if we shelter in place for one month every year? It wouldn’t be anything like this one, though. We’d all know it was coming and plan for it. Businesses could sell you a million things to make your stay at home enjoyable. Everyone from the Federal government on down could budget for it. What if every country in the world did the same thing at the same time? Or even the Northern hemisphere in our spring and the Southern hemisphere in theirs?

This moment is being called “The Great Pause,” and it has indeed been great for wild animals, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and the environment, although devastating for a lot of humanity. What if we turn this negative into a positive? Think about it…

In the meantime, you’ll find me in the garden, fighting for my plants’ survival and looking to a future filled with big, strong sunflowers to brighten the landscape, and my day.

– Ann