Nipping it in the Bud

orange tree

This blog post originally appeared on the Religious Action Center’s blog.

Ah springtime…the chirping of birds, the buzzing of insects, the budding of trees. But wait a minute. It’s not spring. It’s winter in Brooklyn…it’s 72 degrees out…the tomatoes are still growing in my garden and the poor trees are confused. I’m a little confused myself. I’ve settled in to write an article about Tu BiSh’vat the Jewish holiday, which will be celebrated on January 24-25, 2016 and foretells the coming of springtime in Israel. As an experiential environmental educator, between leading eco activities and Tu BiSh’vat Seders, it’s always been my busy season. I’m used to being greeted with mixed reactions when talking about spring in the midst of icy cold winter weather.

Tu BiSh’vat, referred to as the New Year of the Trees or the Birthday of the Trees, has also been dubbed the Jewish Arbor Day or Jewish Earth Day. It’s a time when the frozen waters start to thaw; as the soil and trees are nourished, they begin to reproduce leaves and seeds. In the Jewish community Tu BiSh’vat is a time for us to embrace our responsibility as stewards of the planet and a natural time to appreciate and be awed by trees. Speaking of embracing, I’ve hugged a few trees in my day. With all that trees do for us, they deserve to be hugged.

While it was hard not to revel in wearing spring-like clothes in winter, we’ve learned over the past few years of erratic weather including 14 of the 15 hottest years on record, which have all occurred since 2000, that there’s a price to be paid. In this case, the budding of trees in December means that the plants and trees’ natural cycles have been thrown off resulting in a shortened flowering season and in some instances, some trees may not flower at all. Fruit trees for example, need to experience a substantial amount of chilling so they will bear fruit. The holiday of Tu BiSh’vat actually began as the cut-off date for collecting taxes on the crop of fruit trees. The Jewish people gave one tenth or a tithing of their harvest to support the sacred work of the temples and to help the poor and those in need. The Jewish principle of bal tashchit is a prohibition against cutting down or destroying trees even as a tactic of war, and specifically forbids the cutting down of fruit-bearing trees. Fruit (food) is a sacred gift and the law forbids needless and wasteful destruction. In our day, the increase of climate-driven extreme weather events such as excessive heat, drought and flooding related to human activity is putting our food sources at risk. Isn’t this a form of wanton destruction?

Trees are our natural partners in so many ways and critical to the sustainability of our planet. There can’t be a serious discussion about slowing down the devastation of climate change without considering the impact of trees, particularly on the heels of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. The second day of the conference focused on trees including carbon sequestration, reforestation, carbon sinks, agribusinesses, logging of old-growth forests and sustainable development of commodities that come from trees. To honor the commitments in the Paris agreement and limit the temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or possibly 1.5C, the world must not only stop destroying its forests, it must invest in tree regeneration to create a balance between the emissions of greenhouse gases and their removal.

While an agreement may have been reached in Paris, as we reflect on Tu BiSh’vat, we still need to be vigilant. We must hold industry and government accountable by supporting pro-environmental legislation. We need to hold ourselves accountable as well by preserving and conserving our natural resources and taking progressive personal and communal action to nip the causes of climate change in the bud.

 

Still Trying to Imagine

John Lennon

I’m thinking about John Lennon. I’m always thinking about John Lennon. But today especially.

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a confluence of the two major issues I’ve been involved in for 20+ years: climate change and gun violence. I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed by the state of both these issues, it’s been hard to get motivated to write about them. But today is the 35th anniversary of the day John Lennon was killed, so I’m motivated.

Today is also the third night of Chanukah. There’s a natural Chanukah -environment connection. It’s a holiday about oil dependence in the same unstable region of the world that we’ve always had oil issues. It’s also about light at this, the darkest time of the year, which makes it a natural time to think about energy conservation, environmental stewardship and moving away from our unsustainable use of fossil fuels. This year it has even more meaning with the UN Climate Conference in Paris in its 9th day. About 180 countries have submitted emissons reductions plans. The goal is to reach a legally binding agreement to keep global average temperatures from continuing to rise to disastrous levels. As we know, storms with increased intensity, droughts and other catastrophic weather occurrences are impacting our planet, particularly the most vulnerable who are already suffering. This isn’t something in the future. This is happening now.

Climate change is a factor in the surge of refugees and terrorism as well. In Syria, for example there has been a drought for the past six years. As crops failed, there were food shortages. Hundreds of thousands of families who depended on farms ​poured into Syria’s cities, adding to the refugees already fleeing from the chaos in Iraq. The government was incapable of doing anything, making way for militant groups to step in.

We know all too well that intolerance and instability leads to unrest and violence. Not just terrorist acts by outsiders, but homegrown acts of violence made easier by our weak gun laws, which leads me back to John Lennon. It seemed impossible at the time that anyone would want to gun down and murder John Lennon who asked us to Imagine a better world and to give peace a chance. Who would have guessed that 35 years later in America, over 108,000 people a year would be victims of gun violence?

A few weeks ago I went to Washington DC for the 2015 Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence National Summit Lobbying Day and to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the national Million Mom March, which I was a coordinator for in 2000. Following our day of lobbying, we felt exhilirated, not knowing what lie around the corner in a few weeks. On the way back to New York, I updated my blog piece, Triggers, to encourage people to get in touch with their legislators to encourage the expansion of background checks for gun purchases. We had high hopes. But even with these recent tragedies, we’re having trouble getting any traction on legislation for gun safety laws.

If John Lennon had lived, I’m sure he would be just as perplexed as any rational person should be that our country can’t agree on commonsense approaches to both the problem of climate change and gun violence.

Being outraged isn’t #ENOUGH, we need to take action by supporting and voting for legislators and policies that will make a difference.

We learn from the Chanukah story that the little guy can be victorious over the big guy. This Chanukah as we kindle the candles, let’s hope there’s light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting a Face on Climate Change

Climate March small

Fourteen years ago I was a local coordinator for the national Million Mom March for sensible gun legislation. At an environmental conference a few months later in Washington, DC, I addressed the group saying that what we needed was a march to protect our planet.

At the Million Mom March we invited families who had lost a loved one to gun violence up to the stage on the Washington Mall. One by one they shared their stories about a parent, a brother, a child who had been killed. Over time, we’ve come to understand that gun violence is an issue of public health. Similarly, I thought at an eco march, we could have individuals whose lives and health had been impacted by environmental degradation and assaults on their air, land and water, tell their stories—all in an effort to put a face on climate change.

Over the past twenty years I’ve been speaking and writing about environmental issues, in particular about the threat of climate change. In all that time it has always been a tough sell. If you see a homeless person, a hungry person or an infirm person, you know there’s a problem. But with climate change, if you can’t see the problem or make an immediate cause and effect connection, it’s easy to pretend it doesn’t exist. Al Gore spoke about humans’ complacency when it comes to global warming in his film, An Inconvenient Truth. He compared it to the cautionary tale of tossing a frog in a pot of boiling water. The frog doesn’t jump out right away because it’s a slow boil.

Over the years I’ve presented on panels with indigenous peoples from low-lying island nations where sea levels are rising, who have lost their livelihoods and/or have been displaced from their homes—climate refugees. I’ve addressed numerous groups and spoken about at-risk people, and I could tell from the audience’s faces that they couldn’t relate to them or to the faraway places they lived. Many of them couldn’t even relate when I talked about our local neighbors: children with asthma, adults with respiratory illnesses and families living in environmental blight. But all that has changed in the past few years. Many of us are now living in vulnerable communities; we’ve become climate refugees. To those who take refuge in NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard), beware; climate change is coming to a neighborhood near you!

Ironically, even though more frequent and severe storms, flooding, drought, disease, dangerously high temperatures and wildfires as a result of extreme weather events, are creating more homeless, hungry and infirm people, and leading to catastrophic loss of life, we still haven’t taken the kind of strong action needed to combat climate change. The climate change deniers, including many U.S. politicians still don’t see the dire need to address this issue. The U.S. continues to contribute disproportionately to the world’s carbon pollution. And by not taking responsibility, our unsustainable energy consumption and wasteful use of resources is contributing to global environmental injustice.

On Sunday, September 21, tens of thousands of people of all ages and from diverse communities including: public health, scientists, faith, veterans, farmers, immigrants, workers, indigenous peoples and our neighbors whose lives have been ravaged by hurricanes and superstorms, will gather together on the streets of New York City for the People’s Climate March.This will be two days before the UN Climate Summit 2014, which will convene world leaders in government, civil society, and the private sector to mobilize support for negotiating a global, legally binding treaty in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and to provide poor and vulnerable populations with significant support to build climate-resilient communities. The march is our wake-up call that climate change is real and that it needs our immediate attention because we are at the tipping point. According to the majority of the world’s scientists, we have already exceeded the safe levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and are therefore experiencing human-caused global warming right now.

There won’t be any speakers at the People’s Climate March the way there was at the Million Mom March in 2000. There won’t be any organized way for people to tell their stories as I had suggested fourteen years ago when I first began thinking about a march like this. But sadly, all these years later I realize that we don’t need to single anyone out, because if we were to put a face on climate change today, the face would be of you and me.

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Just as important as showing up for the march on September 21 is what we are going to do on September 22 and beyond. Check out the events before and beyond the march. Calculate your carbon footprint. Take action to live more sustainably. Get engaged in the issues and vote for legislators who support a healthy, clean, sustainable environment!

To combat climate change, we need to create change.

Sign up and join us at the People’s Climate March!

 

The Power of Pete

me and Pete

Pete Seeger will forever be referred to as a legend. The word legend is defined as “a person whose fame or notoriety makes him a source of exaggerated or romanticized tales or exploits.” But there was nothing exaggerated about Pete Seeger. He was the real deal. In fact, Pete was something much greater than a legend. He was an engaged citizen who believed individuals taking action, even on the smallest level, could save the world. Pete believed in the power of the people.

I first met Pete sixteen years ago at Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival, the zero-waste, bio diesel- and solar-powered music festival at Croton Point Park on the shores of the Hudson River in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. He was scheduled to give a talk about his electric battery powered cherry red pickup truck in the designated Energy Area. My husband and daughters and I went to the talk and afterwards I told Pete that I was an experiential, environmental educator and that I had recently built a homemade solar cooker using cardboard boxes, aluminum foil and glass. While building a solar cooker turned out to be a fun and educational science fair project for our daughters, it was so much more. Using the power of the sun, a solar cooker can be an essential cooking tool for communities living in developing nations that don’t have access to electricity or safe ways to gather firewood, often a dangerous task particularly for women.

Pete got really excited about the solar cooker project and asked if I would teach a workshop on how to make them at the Clearwater Festival. He said to give him a call to discuss it. He wrote a note to me along with his phone number on my Clearwater Festival program booklet. A few days later I was calling Pete Seeger. “Hello, is Pete home? His wife, Toshi, put Pete on the line and we worked out a plan to bring the project to the Festival.

The following spring I led a workshop on how to construct a solar cooker and spoke about its benefits as a healthier cooking alternative for people and the planet. Throughout the day as Festival participants passed by, we gave out solar cooked nachos and a healthy version of s’mores, along with a quick lesson on the importance of  renewable energy. It was what you call a real teachable moment. One of the reasons Pete was so enthusiastic about the solar cooker project was because for him it was always about hands-on education leading to advocacy.

The power of Pete was that he knew that in order to disseminate a message you need to engage people in a way that they don’t feel they’re being hit over the head. Best case in point was Pete’s passion to clean up the Hudson River, a local issue for him since he lived by the river. He, along with a few friends began their Clearwater mission in the 1960s when the Hudson was saturated with raw sewage, oil pollution, pesticide runoff and toxic chemicals such as PCBs caused by industrial manufacturing. Pete felt great despair over the pollution of his beloved Hudson River. Key to the mission was to connect people back to the river; to create majestic sloops from which people could experience the beauty of the river, and that also served as environmental sailing classrooms; all in an effort to move them to want to preserve it. In fact, my introduction to Clearwater was sailing on a sloop with my daughter and her class on an experiential field trip. Through the years our family has continued to be Clearwater Festival regulars; we presented other eco programs, volunteered in various capacities, and sung and strummed along with Pete. Pete touched millions through his songs, but personal moments with him were especially empowering. We will greatly miss his humble and purposeful presence.

Throughout history, music has been a catalyst for change, a medium for protest and a way to deliver a message of hope. (Clearwater website)

For Pete, music was integral to the mission because music brings people together and creates community; hopefully, a community that will take action and create change. When Pete addressed an audience, he would interject spoken messages of peace and environmental stewardship. The power of Pete was that he knew he had a captivated audience and that while they were singing along, they would learn something too. As Pete said, “My job is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.”

But he also knew that music alone was not the solution. For Pete and countless dedicated individuals inspired by him to act locally, the incredible work they did to clean up the Hudson paid off globally as well, as it led to helping to pass landmark environmental laws, both state and federal, including the Clean Water Act.

Being an environmental activist has always been challenging, and while we’ve made great strides, it’s hard not to feel discouraged in light of the omnibus spending bill that was recently passed by Congress, which essentially undermines environmental regulatory actions and environmental justice.

For Pete’s sake, we need to let our legislators know that the laws that protect our environment, do make a difference. For Pete’s sake, we need to take personal responsibility as stewards of our planet. For Pete’s sake, we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions if we want to have a fighting chance against the devastating effects of climate change.

More important than being a legend, is leaving a legacy.

Making the Most…of Compost

compost cropped

One of my great weekly pleasures is the Sunday ritual of dropping off my compost in the bins at the Farmers Market up the street from my home, and then shopping for fresh, local veggies and fruit. It’s a full circle, soil cycle experience.

In a final attempt to make New Yorkers and the city they live in healthier, eco-friendly mayor, Michael Bloomberg, wants to create a mandatory food-waste recycling program – that is – mandatory composting! The city is even seeking proposals to build a plant to process food waste into biogas and convert it to electricity. The program should be citywide by 2015/16 and will start out on a voluntary basis, but will eventually be mandatory. Of course Mayor Mike won’t be around to fine New Yorkers who don’t separate their food scraps, but Democratic candidate, Bill de Blasio, says if elected, he will eventually make composting mandatory. It will be very interesting if that really comes to pass since during the NYC Democratic mayoral debate last month, all five of the candidates were asked if they composted and not a single one of them did.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic, though, if the uber-energized city that never sleeps could one day literally be fueled…by a Big Apple!

 

Meatless Mondays

It’s always Meatless Mondays at our house and for that matter Meatless Tuesdays, Wednesdays… you get the point. If you’re looking to kick off 2012 in a healthier, more sustainable way, as well as inspiration to go meatless, check out Meatless Mondays, filled with recipes and resources for eating lower on the food chain. Our Meatless Monday dish tonight is:  Thai coconut curry tempeh, roasted string beans, black beans, coconut milk and Brown Rice Medley (long-grain brown rice, black barley and daikon radish seeds). Yum! For more on the subject of eating more sustainably and specifically on rethinking your meat intake, here’s an excerpt from my article, “The True Cost of Food,” published in 2009…

A discussion of food and climate change must address the need to significantly reduce our meat consumption. Fruits, vegetables, and grains require 95% percent less raw materials to produce. In a 2006 report, the United Nations said that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation combined. Agribusinesses and large factory farms (also known as CAFOs, Confined Animal Feeding Operations), in particular, are major culprits. To counter this, there is a growing movement of small farms that have found methods to avoid much of the harm caused by factory farms and feedlots. Grass-fed beef, for example, is estimated to produce 40% less greenhouse emissions and grass is easier for cattle to digest, resulting in less methane, the second most significant greenhouse gas. According to the Sierra Club’s National Sustainable Consumption Committee, factory-bred animals are fed a diet of concentrated corn and other grains. 80% or more of the grain grown in the US is fed to cows—it takes 10 to 16 pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat. The true cost of raising this grain is enormous, requiring massive amounts of land, water and fertilizer. In recent years, more and more consumers are choosing to reduce their meat intake for health and sustainability reasons. If every American had just one meat-free day a week, it would reduce carbon emissions equal to taking 8 million cars off the road.

Happy Meatless Monday!

I Can’t Swim: Reflections on the Need for Climate Action

When I was eight years old, at a swim club with my family, a friend of my brother’s thought it would be funny to toss me in the pool. I couldn’t swim. Panic ensued as I tried to paddle my way to the wall, all the while with my nose and mouth dipping below the surface of the water. When I was nine, my mother took me for swim lessons. I hated it. I hated the smell of the chlorine. I hated how the Polyester bathing suit felt against my skin. I hated the chill I felt before I actually got in the pool and I hated the viscosity of the water once I immersed myself. I learned various technical skills, but I didn’t learn to swim with any proficiency. And while I spent my summers as a child at the beach, my ocean skills weren’t much better, having been knocked down by a wave more than once, gulping enough salt water to raise my blood pressure.

For 18 years or so, I have been writing, speaking and teaching about the threat of climate change – the crisis formerly known as global warming. It’s always been a hard sell because a) nobody wants to hear about doomsday scenarios b) to do anything about it; that is, to reduce our energy use, requires change, which is hard and c) it seems totally disconnected to our “developed” country  lives – it’s someone else’s problem. For many years it has been a problem for more vulnerable populations – the poor, indigenous populations and people living on small island nations. Well, guess what? My fellow New Yorkers and I live on an island too! And for anyone who rides the Lexington Avenue subway trains, you know that all it takes is a heavy rain to cause the East River to surge and flood the FDR, and cause delays on the 4, 5, and 6 trains. The idea of flooding in the subways began to get some serious public attention during the threat of Hurricane Irene this past summer.

During Irene the storm surge was 3.6.  According to Columbia University professor Klaus Jacob, one of the nation’s foremost experts on transit and climate change, “Had it been not 3.6 feet but 4.6, we would have been in deep trouble.” In other words, one foot of a difference.

According to the article “For Transit Agencies, Climate Change Can Cost Billions,”  “What the city dodged was the ghost of climate change future — higher sea levels, intense storms, and elevated amounts of precipitation, all of which could combine to cause widespread flooding of the subway system.”

The transit infrastructure measures needed to be taken to protect us from catastrophic destruction could cost New York’s MTA as much as $15 billion. The MTA is already $10 billion short in funding its current capital campaign. The longterm fix would be to spend this money instead on investing in and producing more sustainable energy and  in offering more incentives and alternatives to help reduce the amount of human-made greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. But with limited available funds, neither may be feasible. The money aside, Americans typically only act after disaster has struck. We’re on a fast track and stopping to take preventive actions would slow us down; many also believe that being forced to make lifestyle changes to lower our carbon footprint would be infringing on our right to use an abundance of energy as we please. Let’s consider, though, that 5.2 million people ride the NYC subway a day. As stated in the article, a halted subway would almost halt the city’s economy, which, Jacob says produces $4 billion a day in economic activity. Our only hope may be that the almighty dollar will be enough of a wake-up call for us to begin taking action.

With this threat looming, I’ve thought that maybe I should once again look into swim lessons, but under these circumstances, even knowing how to keep our heads above water, won’t help much.

Food Day Everyday!

Today is national Food Day.  I like to think everyday is a day to support healthy, affordable food, produced in a sustainable way! This first national Food Day is being recognized with lots of fun, educational and delicious foodie events planned all around the country.

A few weeks ago, JCC Grows, the healthy food and hunger-relief – community garden initiative that I manage was featured on the White House blog, the Let’s Move blog and the USDA blog. JCC Grows is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move effort and the USDA’s People’s Garden initiative. Click here to read about the project on the White House blog.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Environmentalist Ray Anderson

In 2005 I was part of the interfaith delegation attending the first Meeting of the Parties (MOP-1) to the Kyoto Protocol─the protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, aimed at fighting “global warming,” since the gathering in Kyoto in 1997. It was therefore one of the largest intergovernmental conferences on climate change ever, hosting more than 10,000 delegates. I was representing the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL); our ecumenical team was monitoring the international negotiations on climate change and meeting with scientists and government officials from many countries to discuss ethical and moral responses to this urgent environmental crisis. It was at this gathering that I first heard and met, Ray Anderson, chairman and chief executive of the world’s largest carpet-tile manufacturer, Interface, Inc.

Wearing my more radical grassroots hat, I was also involved with a group called, the Climate Crisis Coalition, and being genetically predisposed to activism and looking out for the little guy, I was wary of big business. In walked Ray Anderson, this charismatic, all-American looking executive, with his almost evangelical approach to the need to reduce waste and carbon emissions. But this wasn’t always his mantra. He had an ethical wake-up call after reading Paul Hawken’s book, The Ecology of Commerce, and realizing that he, through his company’s role in the industrial system, was a “plunderer of Earth.” This resulted in his helping to pave (or should I say, carpet the way), for innovative thinking on sustainability and how a company could remain profitable and do the right thing, all at the same time. From that point on, in any facility greening project I was involved in, I touted the many benefits of investing in Interface carpeting, a green business success story. But I also need to disclose that I had a personal agenda for my support as well. Besides their goal of a zero carbon footprint and using renewable materials, Interface figured out a way to eliminate the use of adhesive toxic glues, notorious for causing off-gassing─the evaporation of volatile chemicals in non-metallic materials. In layman’s terms…that new carpet smell that overwhelms you when you enter a newly carpeted space. Being chemically-sensitive, I am particularly sensitive to this. (No one should have to endure the affects of off-gassing, especially children.)

In a tribute to Ray Anderson, who passed away on August 9, New York Times writer (and my friend), Paul Vitello, quoted from a speech Anderson made to the business community after being inspired by Paul Hawken’s book. “We are all part of the continuum of humanity and life. We will have lived our brief span and either helped or hurt that continuum and the earth that sustains all life. It’s that simple. Which will it be?”

Ray Anderson, through Interface, was part of the continuum of addressing our greatest environmental threat, climate change; as well as reducing waste and indoor air pollution─key to a healthy building, whether it be a home, business, or house of worship─making a sacred space, a little more sacred.

Breathing New Life into a Garden

A little over a year ago, right after I was commissioned to write a chapter for The Sacred Table, (a book about ethical eating), I serendipitously got a plot in the community garden across the street from my home in Brooklyn.  I titled my essay, which is about community gardens, “Getting Back to the Garden” as a homage to Joni Mitchell. Among the many topics I touched on was how the garden is a metaphor for life as it cycles through the seasons and teaches us lessons on decay and the fragility of life. Rather than focusing on death, we can choose to look at it as life-affirming in that “nature recycles itself through composting. Dead plant material that has decomposed is in fact rich in nutrients, breathing new life into a garden.”

I had just completed the chapter when in mid-June, unexpectedly, my 93 year old, totally independent father, fell. He spent the next six weeks in the hospital, alert, yet frustrated by his immobility. I spent that time on automatic pilot:  traveling back and forth to Philadelphia, renting a car at 30th Street Station and driving out to the hospital to be with my mom by my father’s bedside for ten hours a day, then returning the car and traveling back to New York City. My mother did the same thing seven days a week for that period of time, only leaving my father to go home to sleep.

For my birthday, in the first week of July, my mother sent me a set of gardening tools sophisticated enough for a master gardener. She and my dad had always gardened, so she was excited about my new venture.  My daughters, working in the Berkshires at their summer camp, sent me a wooden hand-painted plaque that read, “Mom’s Garden” with various veggies painted on it, which I placed prominently in my garden.

During the six weeks, one day my dad was up, one day he was down. All along my mom and my brothers and I were making plans to move him to a rehabilitation facility where he would receive more needed care for his eventual recovery. Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn, I found solace in my little garden and the tasks needed to nurture it:  watering, pruning and harvesting. Much to my delight, from my little garden sprang life:  plum tomatoes, Indian eggplant, basil and a rainbow of begonias. But what I would never have guessed was that while I was watching my garden thrive, I would be watching my father die.

That was one year ago.

My success with the garden inspired me to want to improve my skills and expand my yield this summer. When I went out to my garden plot this past spring, I discovered that the wood of my raised garden bed had rotted out as the fall and then winter settled in and the vines withered. Since it could no longer be used for planting, it has now been designated as the collection bin for the compost for our garden’s new composter, generating fresh soil to nourish new plants. Talk about driving the metaphor home about my dad’s legacy and the life cycles of a garden!

I will forever associate my garden with the summer I lost my dad, and I will be mindful of what I wrote in, “Getting Back to the Garden”—that nature recycles itself, breathing new life into the garden. One of the most comforting sentiments people shared with me after the loss of my dad, is that a person you love is never really gone because they live on in the lives of the people they’ve touched. And so, like my plants, my loving and selfless father, is recycled daily through all of us.