“Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” ~Greek Proverb
The Chinese sages also appreciated their value:
Let us not forget the importance of creating nature; fostering and nurturing Mother Earth.
Trees provide so many benefits to our everyday lives. They filter clean air, provide fresh drinking water, help curb climate change, and create homes for thousands of species of plants and animals. Planting a Billion Trees can help save the Earth from deforestation.
Helping to Plant Trees
Depending on location, it costs between $1-$3 to plant a tree including ongoing maintenance and stewardship. Including organizational overheads, I see this as a real bargain, especially for something that might last 70 years!
The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign is a major forest restoration effort with a goal of planting a billion trees across the planet.
So you don’t have the time or don’t want to get your hands dirty? I hear you, but you can still support the various organizations around the world depending on your preferred location.
Furthermore, I explained, her own Grandmother remembered the introduction of what was referred to as, “the electric light.” On hearing this, my teenager responded with a pained, then incredulous look, before asking, “So you grew up without electricity?” (Certainly not, I retorted. I was born well after the war!)
Life before Cell Phones
The teen then continued to ask how our generations could possibly have managed social arrangements and meetings without even a mobile phone to help us! If no one turned up at the agreed time, what did you do? she asked. I explained how we’d:
wait or wander off nearby, feeling either disappointed and confused and come back to check a short while later
find a payphone and call the person, if we knew their home phone number, (which we often did), or if the phone book was in-situ, we could look the number up. [How long has it been since anyone saw a phone book in a payphone box?]
go to their house and find out what happened
give up and go home
The conversation made me acutely aware of how reliant modern society is on energy and information in the form of the world wide web and cell phones. I wondered:
Could we cope without cellular or internet connections?
Fifteen years ago, such a question would have been superfluous, but now I’m not sure. My older sons certainly act as if their jugular vein has been severed if the internet connection drops out, for more than a few minutes. (In Australia, this may be fairly commonplace). Without mobile phones towers operating, we are effectively shut off from technology and information.
Consider for a moment, how really powerless and vulnerable the modern world is without the internet, cellular networks and electricity?
Years ago, we never knew any different, particularly in rural areas. Scores of people throughout the world still live this way. Would I now find it hard to go for or days without internet access or a few hours without a power source?
GOING OFFLINE and OFF GRID
Feeling determined to reject the confining chains of modern society, and re-acquaint with my inner hippie, I decided to experiment with a personal challenge to go OFFLINE and OFF-GRID – ie. voluntarily go with out power and technology for a day.
As soon as the challenge began, I was having problems.
I needed a phone number to call a tradesmen so instead of searching the net for the phone number, I tried to look it up in the phone book. No luck there as the hard copy of our phone book was not only out of date, it was buried in the darkest recesses of the junk cupboard, never to seen again.
Instead, I thought to do some holiday planning… Nope: that didn’t work as I needed to look up accommodation venues on the net.
I decided to continue with my genealogical research and reading, only I needed census information and names to cross-check details and dates.
Forget that – I will make a nice meal/dessert if only the oven would work without power.
For food: I kept the refrigerator on but tried to eat food from the pantry that did not require refrigeration.
Make a cup of tea? – How would I do that?
Perhaps I could chat to the neighbour? No luck there either, as she’d gone out somewhere or was already asleep. This was not going well.
Watch some TV? Nope! Wasn’t possible.
Do some sewing/embroidery craft hobbies/ paint/fix something. Not enough light after 6pm.
Read a book or write in my journal?
YES!- I could do that – but it was night-time. And who can see by candlelight once you are past the age of 40?
Only one thing left for my other half and me to do, I guess. Go to sleep.
No wonder people had so many children before the advent of electricity.
Our reliance on energy and connectivity is obvious.
Could you take the challenge to go powerless for a day?
Earth Hour March 27
The Earth Hour initiative began in Sydney in 2007 by WWF and is now an annual worldwide environmental event.
Held every year on the last Saturday of March, Earth Hour engages millions of people in more than 180 countries and territories, switching off their lights to show support for our planet.
But Earth Hour goes far beyond the symbolic action of switching off – it has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of the people and collective action.
Earth Hour is open-source and we welcome everyone, anyone, to take part and help amplify our mission to unite people to protect our planet.
The Earth Hour global organizing team is recommending all individuals to take part digitally when possible, and to wear a mask and follow local guidelines if you are planning to be in a public space or are thinking of spending the ‘Hour,’ with friends and family, outside your home.
So often we walk around in nature failing to notice the details, the grass under our feet.
Subtle changes in colour and appearance indicate the passing of the seasons. Many varieties of grass remain invisible, yet are an integral part of the natural landscape.
The theme for this week’s Friendly Friday challenge is:
‘Splendour in the Grass’
Using Grass to Frame a Landscape in Photography
In photographic terms, grass can be used to frame the shot or make an interesting feature in the foreground.
This ‘Moon viewing,’ photo captured during the Tsukimi festival in mid-Autumn, in Japan.
Japanese Senga Grass Fields at Mount Fuji
The Japanese find Splendour in the Sengakuhara Pampas Grass, by strolling along a walking trail, at the western side of Mount Hakone. For it is here that the changing colour of the tall grass offers stunning vistas. In November, the grass turns a shimmering, silvery gold. Wedding proposal and selfies abound at this time of year.
In Australia, a country fringed by blue oceans, you will find grass the colour of sunburnt earth, which often makes me yearn for the vivid fluorescent green grass of wetter climates.
Australian deserts display different kinds of saltbush grass.
In the arid conditions of the Australian landscape, plants have adapted to grow under extreme conditions, such as the grass tree.
Grass Trees in Australia
A relic of the Age of Dinosaurs, Xanthorrhoeas, also known as the Grass Tree, grow very slowly and are resistant to bushfire. In fact, fire helps the grass tree produce its flowers. They also have a unique symbiotic relationship with the soil. The presence of a mycorrhizal microbe in the soil around their roots allows them to flourish, even if the soils are nutrient-poor.
Grass Trees are highly sought after in Australian horticulture and as such are often illegally removed from their natural locations. They fetch high prices as ornamental plants. Little do the owners realize that if the soil in their garden does not contain the mycorrhizal enzyme, the grass tree that they paid so dearly for, will wither and die.
Imitating Nature in Growing Grass Trees
Here’s a secret that an old-timer once told me. Take a cup of brown sugar, put it in a bucket of water and water your grass trees once a month for two years with that mixture. The sugar feeds the mycorrhiza and gets it going and your grass tree will survive.
With the long awaited arrival of the recent rains, an old visitor returned to our garden. I do believe it is the same frog I wrote about him a few years back: –
I had a delightful green visitor in my garden. I found him hiding in the inner dark and cool realms of a motor scooter’s seat compartment, where he has been, apparently riding back and forth to the local train station for perhaps, several weeks. My daughter took some shots seen here, naming him Mr Schneider! Not sure of the reason for that. She is quite imaginative.
This frog is native to Australia and introduced to New Zealand.
He is quite a cute character who can apparently live up to 16 years. The males are smaller than the females and are the only ones to produce he characteristic croak at night, especially in summer when they breed.
The presence of frogs in the garden, it is said, is a good indicator of the health of the local environment and as such, I was really pleased to see this little guy. He is of course very welcome if he is keen on eating all the spiders, cockroaches and insects that make us cringe.
While commonly seeking shelter and availing themselves of still water in human habitats, like toilet bowls, potplants, tanks and swimming pools, an interesting fact is that frogs can scream to ward off predators, and change colour according to their mood, much like a chameleon. Even in the short space of time we observed him, he certainly seemed to lighten in colour. It is important to remember and to teach kids, that the touch of a dry human hand is extremely caustic to these frogs, indeed most frogs, so you must always have wet hands when handling them.
Our task this morning was just to guide him to a safe spot, no more hitchhiking on the motor scooter. So whilst capturing him on the old digital camera, he headed for the pot-plants in the window boxes on the front wall, and after a light mist with the garden hose, he squeezed himself into the hole in the side of the self watering pots.
The main danger to the green tree frog is the destruction of its habitat through wetland clearance and drainage.
We can all support the habitat of frogs by welcoming them into our garden.
And that is something every single one of us needs to ponder about.
Less frogs= more insects= indications that the environment is suffering.
I might live in Australia, where the seasons are upside down, a somewhat moot point if you are Australian, but I am always acutely aware just when Spring has sprung in the Northern hemisphere. That is because the Northern ‘hemispherians,’ often get so excited about the first appearances of spring, their shouts are heard all the way ‘Down Under.’
This time of year, my inbox gets spammed with messages of glee and endless photos from the North, of the first snowdrops buds, or blades of greenery that poke their head through the final remnants of snow.
I can’t say I blame them for having this Spring zeal, as I suspect they are glad to feel some warmth, while I am glad to have a break from the relentless heat. I thought we might celebrate the onset of Spring by making it this week’s Friendly Friday prompt. If you live in the Southern hemisphere, where Spring blurs into Summer, and thence into Autumn, you may have other photos to choose from that make for a different interpretation of the theme. It is entirely up to you.
Create a post sharing your interpretation of this week’s Friendly Friday prompt
– Feelings of Spring
Write and publish a post, tagging the post ‘Friendly Friday’, and adding a url link back to this Friendly Friday post.
Include the Friendly Friday logo, if you wish.
Post a link to your Feelings of Spring post in the comments here, so we can find you.
Please note there are no deadlines for participating. New prompts each week.
Browse the other participants’ posts using the links in the comments section, to see how they’ve interpreted the weekly prompt. It can be quite interesting.
Climate change is an important issue that each of us can contribute to increasing awareness about, through our photography and posts. So today, on Sunday sayings, I explore several environmental quotes that resonate with me. We can make a difference in our daily practices wherever we how in the world, however we live.
A skinny slip of a girl was studying the Environment at University. She learnt about planet earth and how fragile it was; how global temperature might rise at least 2- 3 degrees, and how this warming might lead to cataclysmic and irreversible ramifications for life, on earth.
That student also learnt how inland river systems were polluted by effluent from cities and how excessive irrigation for agricultural crops led to saline soils and dying river systems, in this the driest continent, on earth. She learnt how her country would begin to experience more drought, wild weather events, fire and more hardship on the land in coming decades.
Furthermore, she read how scientists detected die-back and bleaching of coral in the Great Barrier Reef due to run-off of fertilizers draining down from agricultural land into the sea, during rains.
She learnt how everything in the natural world is interconnected.
If one part of the ecosystem breaks down, or disappears, it has a deleterious domino effect on other parts, with potential species extinction and irreversible damage to nature.
She learnt along with rising sea levels, that there is not a single species in the ocean without plastic materials in its gut; that fisheries are disappearing and that the only marine species flourishing in the alkaline marine environment is Jellyfish.
In University classes, she discussed how we as humans, along with other predatory species will feel the concentrated effects of endocrine disrupting petrochemicals and accumulated pesticides. And that we might see evidence of this first in plants, second in animals that feed on those plants, and lastly in us, the carnivores that eat the animals, because we are at the top of the food chain.
Everything is connected.
She learnt that frogs are a good indicator of the health of the environment and that frogs and bee numbers are dwindling.
The student then learnt about the hole in the ozone layer and how the polar ice sheets could melt resulting in a rise in sea levels; meaning some low lying countries will become uninhabitable.
For this student, who had grown up in the shadow of potential nuclear extermination in the Cold War era, soon realized an even bigger threat to the planet was, in fact, man himself.
What kind of world would her potential future children be gifted with?
She left her work in the environment field as she could not bear to hear it any more.
Now no longer a student, but a Mother, that women began to facilitate and promote environmentally friendly practices in her own circle. She spoke about her concerns with friends, family and her wider community, and slowly changed attitudes of those around her, and increased awareness, in her own microcosm.
That former student learnt that education and knowledge can be a powerful vanguard for change in community thinking and ultimately, in the halls of government. The student, who had read so much gloom and doom in her University years, also learnt that there is HOPE.
Slowly, as temperatures began to rise, folks began to know the world was indeed a finite place and could no longer absorb man’s destructive ways.
Sustainable practices, solar and wind power and recycling became mainstream. Single use plastic bags were banned or minimized. Threatened forests and animals were protected and land clearing practices examined in terms of their biodiversity loss or environmental value. Salinity in rivers and streams began to be addressed and is now understood as both a threat and a challenge.
And the public started to realize that Climate Change is real.
Inspired by Marie’s post about the restorative effect of nature, and Peggy’s post referring to an article, in the Guardian, about nature being loved to death in some National Park areas of the world, I found these wise words:
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature,
he finds it attached to the rest of the world “
– John Muir
Planet earth is large, yet the systems we depend on, and everything within, is connected in some way – through the water we drink, the air we breathe, or the soil in which we grow our food.
“The proper use of science is not to conquer nature, but to live in it”
– Barry Commoner
Damage to one area can have an unanticipated implication for another system. That might be beneficial, or it might be detrimental. It might help in the short term, but be harmful to diversity long term. The ecosystems are complex, mostly resilient, but also sometimes very fragile.
“When someone points at the moon, don’t look at the finger.”
– Ancient Buddhist proverb
Worth remembering is the sageful advice of the Ancient Buddhist proverb, written at a time when the environmental concerns we face today, could never have been contemplated. Yet the words seem just as applicable today.
I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.
Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.
Normally I would invite your comment and discussion on the various interpretations and intentions, of the weekly sayings and proverbs.
This week, I am inspired by Manja, and appreciate any comments or opinions you feel moved to offer, of your own volition.
As always, everyone’s opinion is important and should be respected.
I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.
Each Friday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking.
I hope you will too and join with me in a discussion on what we can learn.
The proverb and quotes this week focus on environmental concerns.
I conceive that the land belongs to a vast family of which many are dead, few are living, and countless numbers are still unborn
The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river
– Ross Perot
and a final quote this week:
Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them
– Albert Einstein
The Nigerian Chief recognized that we can never truly own the land. We are merely transient tenants. Inherent in this saying, is the understanding of the mortality of ourselves and of our planet.
Of environmental problems, can they be solved by increasing and augmenting awareness? Or can one team or sector of society make a difference? I think it needs to be a cooperative, collaborative team effort. A problem tackled by all, and for all, ages. Yet, in our our little corner of space, we can change the world for the better. But, if we heed Einstein’s quote – can everyone do that?
Flapping and fluttering of feathery wings.
Winging their way, on fluffy fantastic down,
Down on the lake they begin to preen,
Preen in the reflected face of the shimmering water
Water is their life, their food, their all,
All of them, families young and old preening and feeding together,
Together they fish, float, flap, flurry and flounder on the rocks they call home.
Winter is a beautiful time of year here in the sub tropics of Australia. The nights are cool and brisk, but the days are sunny, clear, and warm (about mid twenties in Celsius degrees).
I love this time of year, no humidity and it often feels like we have skipped winter, and gone from Autumn directly to spring. This is my morning view.
At least when I look out my window, I see the beautiful specimens of Wattle (Acacia species) and Banksia (Giant Candles).
Banksia plants come in many varieties and were named about the Botanist on board Cook’s ship the Endeavour when it discovered the East coast of Australia in 1770. Banks and his colleagues made many drawings on these glorious plants, and thus were named after him.
Banksia have an interesting adaptation to the harsh Australian climate. They do not have flowers, but instead a large cone that holds nectar (food for the many Lorikeets and nectar feeding birds). Following this, the cone develops into a seed pod, protecting the valuable seed within until it is one day exposed to high intensity heat (such as found in a bush fire).
Upon being burnt, the seed cone will open, releasing the seed contained within. The Banksia plant is then free to germinate in not only a potash rich soil, but in an area with very little competition from other plants for sun and moisture.
Australia’s official national floral emblem, featured on the coat-of-arms. Possibly the best known amongst the Australian plants. With 600 or more kinds of wattles, they can be found in every part of the country, from well-watered areas to the arid Centre to the cold mountain regions.
The wattles are usually the first to appear after bush-fires and can be found growing in the most remote areas, from low, spreading shrubs to large, upright growing trees. The individual flowers are always very small and massed together in pom-pom heads or rod-like spikes. Whilst most wattles are spring-flowering, there are some that bloom all year round.
1st September is Australia’s Wattle Day.
Wattles belong to the genus Acacia, in the Mimosa family.
There are over 600 different species distributed throughout Australia with shapes varying from low, spreading shrubs to large, upright trees. It is often called ‘Mulga’. Whilst most are early spring and summer-flowering, there are wattles that bloom all year round.
Which is really clever and definitely something to ponder about: the resilience and endless adaptation of nature.