Spring is a favorite time for all of us who love to be in the garden. I cherish this season and plan my weeks so that I can begin and end each day with sacred moments outside. Spring is a time to dig in the earth, to plant seeds and to cultivate flowers. It’s a time of renewal and anticipation for all the growth and beauty that is to come.
This season I am so familiar with, so in love with, feels and looks different than I remember. Could it already be time to plant tomatoes?! Are mosquitoes and ticks and chiggers already out and about?! At my house the answers are “yes.” In this first week of spring I have put into the ground four different varieties of tomato plants. I have come back from my daily walks to find itchy chigger bites on my legs. I’ve pulled multiple ticks off my dogs, and have gotten out the bug spray to keep the mosquitoes away.
It’s the Vernal Equinox… not the Summer Solstice!
Spring has sprung with a speed and intensity in its first days that I have never seen before. Redbud trees are at their peak, dogwood blooms are bursting open, and pear and plum trees have traded their white blossoms for electric green leaves. As we joyfully wave goodbye to the long nights of winter to embrace the extended days of light, there seems to be a collective community realization that time has sped up.
In his most recent book Bill McKibben, founder of the international grassroots climate change campaign 350.org, writes about our environment: “It’s a different place. A different planet. It needs a new name. Eaarth.” I’m not sure he will be able to convert the masses to go along with this new designation, but I do think we need to open our minds and hearts to understanding that, although the planet is recognizable, it has become fundamentally altered and so too has our place in it.
Adaptation to environmental change is not a new concept, but the reality that almost one-fifth of climate change pollution comes from the food industry requires a redesign of our food systems. We must localize and relearn about when and where food is grown and how our communities are directly impacted by what we eat.
A hope-filled, positive new resource available for congregations is the Sow a Cool Harvest gardening kit. If you don’t have the space or time for a garden there are other tips you can use, like how to green your pantry or host a local farmers’ market. This kit is a follow up to the Enjoy a Cool Harvest program developed for faith communities to gently raise awareness about the rather large, but not often discussed, connection between our daily food choices and climate change.
Making the food, faith, climate connection is my professional responsibility as Co-Director of NC Interfaith Power & Light, so it is with particularly mixed personal feelings that I look forward to the potential of harvesting homegrown tomatoes in June. This is usually a gardening reward that I have to wait for through the heat of summer. Will they taste as sweet? What are the trade-offs?
Spring has entered like a lamb but seems to have matured into a full-grown sheep in just days. I’m left wondering if there is a caged lion with a message that is calling us to hear its roar.
–Susannah Tuttle, Co-Director, NC IPL