Insights by Goldie: Spring has sprung! Celebrate Earth Day April 22

by Goldie Caughlan

This article was originally published in April 2011

For me, nothing is more exhilarating than the visceral sense of the earth’s awakening each spring. The thrill of that moment virtually (and sometimes literally) brings me to my knees.

It’s always a new and profound rediscovery, experienced as … oh! Life is happening! And, no matter what the calendar indicates, at that moment my spirit soars, singing spring IS! Foolishly, giddily, I’m suddenly sure I must be able to hear the earthworms wriggling, as I sense life rustling and unfolding all around. Yeah, including the weeds, which already are racing ahead of all other plant life — and that’s okay!

I love the old song, God Bless the Grass, by the wonderful Malvina Reynolds. She’s a master of metaphors and a heroine of mine. I especially treasure the last verse:

God bless the grass that grows through cement.
It’s green and it’s tender and it’s easily bent.
But after a while it lifts up its head,
For the grass is living and the stone is dead,
And God bless the grass.

Granted, at the moment of my epiphany of life beginning anew in my garden, it’s March 1, and the muddy clay soil is a partly frozen bog. But I’m still undeterred, still intoxicated by the rediscovery that it’s fully alive!

I begin to recognize the warming sense of healing and renewal that washes over me, embracing it in my reverie. I’m envisioning working with my hands in the soil and touching the seeds. The garden promise already has served to open me, and I become more able to reflect — no, to feel! — just how emotionally and spiritually bruised and battered I’ve been for several weeks.

I had not fully come to terms with the harsh reality of the serious and dangerous actions taken by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. He is a strong supporter of biotechnology in agriculture and is a personal appointee of President Obama.

The secretary’s actions, increasingly hostile particularly since late last year, have been experienced by a great many of us as though we’d received increasingly violent and heavy body blows, delivered to the midsection! People actually make comments about such events as “it makes me hurt, right here (gesturing). Even thinking or talking about it makes me sick to my stomach!”

The secretary first fully deregulated the Monsanto Company’s Roundup Ready alfalfa seed. It means that this seed may be planted legally with no guidelines, oversight or restrictions. It’s the first time a perennial genetically engineered (GE) seed ever has been deregulated. That was on January 24, 2011. (Ugh!)

One week later, Secretary Vilsack struck again, on behalf of Monsanto, fully deregulating Roundup Ready sugar beets. (Wham!)
Then came the third blow, one that most of us had no idea was pending. (Thud!) Secretary Vilsack announced, this time on behalf of a different corporation, full deregulation of a GE maize designed explicitly for biodiesel. It’s not approved for human consumption, but because it’s fully deregulated, it will find its way into human and animal food.

We received numerous poignant, distressed, angry — sometimes frantic — and typically horrified emails and telephone calls during the “siege.” One woman likened her experience to a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I know, too, similar responses were spoken of by colleagues, some from PCC and by others with whom we communicate and collaborate on GMO issues around the country. Several have noted the sense of numbness and deep grieving, a sensation of moving through heavy fog, and sometimes difficulty in concentrating.

Struggles for peace and justice always are long and ongoing, with victories measured more by increments than by dramatic Hollywood-style finales. We must pace ourselves — and literally “bring on the clowns” — and jugglers, musicians and other art-makers! I’m serious. Because to have staying power for the long journey ahead, we must utilize all such peaceful “instruments of mass instruction.”

And grow something — even in a container. Food and flowers. We’re nourished by both bread and roses.

Love and lightness (bound in a will as strong as a non-GMO spider’s silk!) will help us wage, and win, a struggle for justice — a world worth gaining.

Love the Earth!

Also in this issue

Camelot Downs: A fairytale farm

Camelot Downs is the kind of place that leaves a sort of dreamy, picturesque impression in your memory. We recently visited this Whidbey Island farm with a small group of PCC members, PCC Farmland Trust donors, and local conservation specialists.

Pasta at PCC

Learn about the many pastas at PCC, including gluten-free pastas, cooking tips, pasta in bulk and a special PCC Cooks class. From cold pasta salads to steaming Mac and Cheese, our oodles of noodles — packaged or in bulk — are sure to inspire plenty of delicious meals.

News bites, April 2011

Cage-free initiative, Organic testing for pesticides, Washington cherry crop, and more