Oh the glory and pleasure of June. Cool early dawns filled with birdsong, and
just-won't-quit twilights fading to the shortest nights of the year, made
magical with fireflies. In between the beneficence of the sun and the
multifunctional bounty of green plants provide for the most important and
sensual of our needs.
Gardens behind the house are brimming with frilly lettuces, piquant mustards,
tasty arugula, and healthy turnip greens. Parsley, cilantro, dill and basil are
always ready to share their leaves for flavoring. Sugar snap peas and
strawberries provide wholesome sweetnesses. A many-petaled pink peony and a
startling Tradescantia with blue and white flowers consort at the garden's
western edge. Pink and yellow honeysuckle and tall valerian lend delicious
fragrances to the air. Insects and hummingbirds play their essential roles.
Near our house the shade of a tree, or forest is never far away, providing an
always-cool zone for plants and humans. Native oaks, pines and ashes thrive.
The cool of the woods ends as the path enters a meadow of waist-high grasses and
wildflowers. Using a scythe, Dan and I mow the grasses, harvesting their stored
solar energy and nutrients to feed the goat. With a scythe it is easy to leave
alfalfa, clover and wild flowers to reseed themselves, and this tool is
wonderfully quiet. If kept sharp, it is a pleasure to use. A bit further down
hill, as the ground levels out, gardens bask in the brilliant sunlight. Rugosa
roses, onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers thrive in this intense
light and heat, their roots growing in compost made from leaves and food wastes
others have thrown away.
Further on, in the shade of a wild cherry, I discover a patch of blackcap
raspberries. They do best when they find their own place to grow. The nicely
plump berries promise ripe fruit before long.
Ten twenty-four last night was the moment of the summer solstice. Now the sun's
path across our sky is the longest of the year, and for nearly a month, its path
changes very little from one day to the next. We can experience the wonderful
timelessness of the season lingering around the outdoor table with children and
friends after an evening meal.
The sun's energy is most intense around the solstice. This is an appropriate
time to appreciate the sun and its essential role in our lives. Solar energy
powers our bodies. This is also the time to encourage wider adoption of the
big-four, low-cost, ready-to-use solar technologies designed for a better
tomorrow. These four are the home and community organic garden for food and
beauty, south-facing glass on our houses for winter heat, well placed trees for
cooling, and a clothes line for drying.
These technologies are inexpensive, dependable and widely available. Like many
perennial flowers, these solar solutions are long-lasting, pleasant to care for
and live with, and easily maintained. They can work as well on a small lot in
the city as they do in rural areas, and provide nearly unlimited possibilities
for satisfying and productive work.
Oh, I know, the captains of finance, industry and government would have us
invest in genetically-engineered food, ever larger farms, food processors and
supermarkets as well as in distant oil fields in pristine environments, improved
nuclear power plants and new air conditioning systems and electric clothes
dryers. Larger casinos and ever more cable channels, fast food outlets and
distant leisure activities attempt to fill the void caused by the lack of
connection to the real world.
But, our children and grandchildren are likely to be better off if we all make
small local investments in safe, user friendly and beautiful solar technologies
to supply our essential needs. This should free up our other resources for
addressing more pressing problems like creating and maintaining peace in our
neighborhoods and communities and educating ourselves and our children for a
sustainable future built on social justice and understanding.
Happy solstice, go solar now!
This is Bill Duesing, Living on the Earth
C 1996, Bill Duesing, Solar Farm Education, Box 135, Stevenson, CT 06491.