The Grass Is Greenest

by Amy Middleton, Guest Blogger

Two weeks ago I traded my 3rd floor Manhattan walk-up apartment for a temporary yet rent-free arrangement with my parents. I thought leaving NYC after seven years would be grief-filled, epic, tragic; but it has been none of that. I’ve yet to miss the East Coast.

The most welcome change has been the weather. In June, NYC had rain every day but four. Since coming west I’ve only had sunshine. The irony of this upgrade is that while skyscrapers do not require irrigation, the landscape of Orange County largely does. There is a surface out here called grass and it takes up land and resources, and homeowners are not happy if it is a color other than green.

Though I grew up with a lawn, the concept seems outdated and superfluous to me now. In my Harlem walkup, potted fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs competed for limited space near the only window that brought in sunlight.  Though I lacked roof access, I attended workshops on rooftop gardening.  The “Food Not Lawns” approach soon seemed the only sensible use of soil; the dream of having my own little space in which to grow food was a primary catalyst for the cross-country return.

The impact of the Southern California on yard-owners is thus: the city is mandating when they may and may not run their sprinklers. I don’t mean to be complaining about people who are frustrated at the adjustment, but this for me has been the biggest shock of swapping coasts and cultures:

If you have limited access to life’s most essential liquid, why are you upset that the government is monitoring completely unproductive water usage?

Another appropriate question is, who am I, and why am I lamenting this on May’s blog? I am May’s anagram, and while she’s leading young women in spirituality and scriptures, I am thinking about lawns.

Using Your Imagination, Otherwise Known As A Sawdust Toilet

Imagine a bucket.
And a wooden frame built around it.
And some plywood nailed to the frame to form a box.

Imagine hole cut out of the top of the box.
And a toilet seat with a lid set over this hole.
And over the bucket.

Imagine just outside of this box that encases this bucket, another bucket.
And it is full of sawdust.
And a scoop is in the sawdust.

Imagine this box with the bucket in it and the bucket of sawdust somewhere in the woods.
You should know where it is, you built it.
You better know where it is, especially if you need to use the bathroom.

Imagine walking to that box, lifting the toilet lid, sitting down and observing nature while heeding to nature’s call.
And using toilet paper, of course.
And “flushing” with a heaping scoop of sawdust.

Imagine the sawdust absorbing the odor.
And facilitating decomposition.
And yourself dumping the filled bucket onto a compost pile.

Imagine the compost turning into soil.
And using the soil for growing food.
And eating the food that grows from the soil you enriched with your own nitrogen.

I saw this when I helped build that cob house a month ago.

Um. Sawdust-toilet-shaped circle of life, people.

I Wonder

Does the debate between Mac and PC boil down to a matter of preference? The operating systems, the designs; Bill Gates versus Steve Jobs; the user-friendliness and intuitiveness – one could make arguments for and against these points. In my mind, it’s the same as stating my tendencies for country over rock, or reggae over rap; or classical over all of them, and I would present my “case” for those opinions, whereas someone else could express completely different preferences and use the same points to substantiate them. It’s subjective.

What about Ryan Seacrest and Cat Deeley? Cat Deeley, HANDS DOWN. The difference is apparent in her relationship with the contestants and the “jidges!” The banter doesn’t seem contrived with Cat; Cat doesn’t try to cause trouble. Cat is cute. I believe Cat when she hugs the contestants goodbye. When Nigel remarks about the blue, draped dress thingy Chelsie wore in a dance to a song set in a kitchen as not something you wear in the kitchen, Cat is clever and not creepy when she responds, “Well, not to cook.” If Ryan Seacrest said something like that? No, thank you.

Is that so subjective?

When people say stop consuming so much, you’re increasing your carbon footprint on the earth, does that mean stop buying stuff in general or just the stuff that more directly impacts the environment? Like, stop buying new cars. I get that. Stop buying imported things. I get that, too. Stop betting on rocketship races. Yeah, I know it’s a problem, and I need to get help for that. If you’re not supposed to buy stuff, are you supposed to reuse and recycle everything? I need to wrap my brain around that, because I’m definitely for conserving resources, but … everything? And if we don’t buy anything, how are we going to get out of this recession? I mean, the dollar has lost momentum, and it has shrunken so much already, but we still have it.

So why not use it, exercise it a bit, massage it into full functionality?

I wonder if the switch to Mac would be worth it. Maybe, if I could make an iMovie with Cat Deeley in a PSA about the environment.

Yay, capitalist paradox!