A front passed through our area on Tuesday, leaving us with moderate summer temperatures and me with a strong desire to be outside before the blinding heat returns. July and August are usually the hottest months, so 85 degrees with a light breeze and little humidity feels like heaven. Especially when I think about how hot and muggy it usually is this time of the year.
The university abounds with stately trees and lovely well-tended lawns, and so the past two days I've spent my lunch hour on Old Main Lawn, under the gently waving arms of a large tree. In the sun, the heat still has intensity, but under the shadows cast by green leaves, the air is cool and friendly, especially with the gentle wind singing through the leaves above me. I ate my homemade pizza* and read my book as a bumblebee buzzed near by and the surrounding trees dampened the noise of traffic and passing pedestrians. The hour passed in quiet joy.
I gathered my things to return to my desk** feeling tranquil and well-rested. As I walked away, I thought about being like a tree: digging toes deep into cool grass and damp earth, stretching arms out to catch the bright sunshine. I felt whole, alive; I was connected to the world around me.
How sad for my fellow office-dwellers that they don't come out to experience this vibrant place, the scent of green and the songs of insects. They are content to eat their lunches at their desks, to only walk from car to building and building back to car, afraid to get a little sweaty because the temperature is higher than the artificial chill of their climate-controlled spaces. I wonder if they feel the lack, or if they are content? I would die like a plant in a too-small pot that never tastes the sun if I couldn't walk a bit each day, even if it is just to home and back, and a little during lunch.
The outdoors have been calling me stronger this spring and summer. Maybe it's because I felt like I didn't get to go out much last year. Maybe it was the resolution that I made that I would go outside more. Maybe it's that I can't stand the frigid air conditioning in my building. Either way, I've been craving it and being satisfied by it as much as I can. It's so simple, but so profound, the feeling that I'm a part of something greater, and that I get to participate in this great, beautiful world, even with the threats of climate change and knowing how much my actions--and the actions of my species--are threatening to destroy that exquisite beauty. I also have hope that more people will wake up to the missing connection with their environment (and communities), and start making small actions*** to make sure that beauty is secure for centuries to come.
*Leftover from last night--a homemade whole-wheat pizza crust topped with pesto, bell peppers, shrimp, and mushrooms, and cheese. I know...delicious, right? If you are not making use of leftovers because you "don't like leftovers," you are missing out on one the greatest advantages to home cooking: not having to do it all the time. As well as being healthier and knowing exactly what you're eating at lunch. Claiming not to ever eat leftovers is almost as bad as refusing to drink tap water in my book: both are wasteful, poorly excused actions on the part of lazy individuals. Tap water is safer than bottled water^, and leftovers freakin' rock.
^It's true! The EPA strictly regulates tap water, while the FDA looks the other way as bottlers pour tap water into petroleum-guzzling bottles. For more reasons to eschew bottled water, visit takebackthetap.org.
**At which I shall likely freeze to death. How much does it cost the university to keep the buildings at a steady 65 degrees?
***Shopping at the farmers' market. Buying from local businesses. Planting a garden. Walking or riding a bike short distances. Composting and recycling. Bringing reusable bags. Buying organic produce. Eating in-season. Participating in community. Volunteering. Becoming involved in change. Turning off the TV. Sitting outside and appreciating the wonders of the small.