A few days ago, while cycling home after escorting my son to school, I noticed a profusion of daisies and plantains popping up through a mown verge. Perhaps some of these plants had grown rapidly thanks to our recent mix of spring rain and warm sunshine, but longer grass clumped around some flowers gave evidence of a human decision to spare them the blade. I was so delighted I had to come back with the camera. I'm sure there will be plenty of bees and other insects equally happy to see a bit more biodiversity on the streetscape.
On the same day, my friend Helen was walking through her neighbourhood and noticed a new sign in an empty storefront: "Zero-waste grocer, coming soon." This got me thinking about all the plastic in my life.
It also got me thinking about signs. When I was four, my kindy taught us to sing a fill-in-the-blank song that went like this:
Spring is coming, spring is coming, how do you think I know? I saw a _____, I know it must be so.
We were supposed to sing things like "crocus blooming" or "hatchling in a nest." I had some trouble getting the signs correct, as the song required separating out nature and culture as well as season from season. My contributions were usually edited by our teacher. Oh, well, can't be good at everything!
It strikes me now that while flowering daisies and plantain are a sign of spring, the choice to leave part of a verge unmown is a sign of a cultural spring, an early hint of how we're starting to adopt a more harmonious relationship with earth.
Such cultural shifts are on longer cycles than a year, and I suppose different aspects of our culture, and different participants in our culture, are in spring, summer, autumn, or winter at different times, in different ways. There are times when we're trying out new lifeways, times when these are maturing, times when we reap the harvest, and times when it's necessary to stop and reflect, to allow old lifeways to decay, to go quiet and see what might later emerge, tentatively at first, heralding human resilience to changing conditions.
My hope is that both I and others are entering a world-wide spring of plastic-free.
For my part, I have a ways to go on the zero-waste issue, which is why I want to honour each new sign that I'm participating in a cultural spring. If I instead focused on how far I have to go, I'd probably end up mowing over the small impulses toward better earth care that are rising up in my heart and my actions.