|Harold and Gene Haatainen in the backyard where I ate bugs|
Being green was not a "thing" when I was growing up. Yet, I was raised with an appreciation of nature that started during the countless hours I spent in my playpen in my backyard in Manheim, Pennsylvania. The youngest of three girls, I was often left to entertain myself outside and, from stories I've been told, I ate my share of caterpillars and other bugs while out there. Yum. And yet, I was the pickiest eater EVER as I got older. My poor mother catered to my pickyness for years and there were many meals where I simply ate bread with molasses (for the iron).
The thing about our refrigerator and cupboards was that the food she bought (and grew in the garden) did not get wasted. My mom set a good example.
I remember the year she decided to start a vegetable garden. We dug it up, raked it, and planted it. Eventually, we built a small fence around it to keep the bunnies out. I loved spending time with my mom in the garden. Even though there was very little there that I would eat, I still relished going out there and picking peas and beans and tomatoes. Perhaps that's why I enjoy it still today.
Possibly the best environmental gift my mother gave me was our mutual love of hanging laundry on the line. I discovered my passion for the smell of sun-dried sheets as I crawled into bed in my childhood home. It remains my favorite smell on earth.
Mom continued line-drying clothing and sheets into her 80s. She even line-dried her towels, reducing her carbon footprint long before that phrase was ever uttered. I loved that about Mom.
She also made much of our clothing, using leftover scraps of fabric to make doll clothes, so nothing was wasted. I never truly appreciated that when I was young, but I sure do now. Her skill with the sewing machine was not inherited by me, but I do have her old Singer. Maybe some day I'll channel her creative energy and make some clothing for my grandbabies... or their dolls.
Unlike many elderly people, my mom was open to learning new things. When I told her about how toxic fabric softener was, she stopped using it. Same with some of her cleaning supplies. When I'd visit her, I'd find gallon jugs of distilled white vinegar. And it made my heart happy.
She even tried apple cider vinegar for acid reflux, but just couldn't handle it. At least she tried.
And... during her last decade or so, Mom never went out to the store without her reusable bags. How awesome is that?
On this anniversary of losing her, I can't tell you how much I miss her. There are days I still dissolve onto the floor in a puddle of tears. I never thought it would hurt this much. But it's good to reflect on her life, so I thank you for indulging me and reading this post.
I would love it if you'd share some of your own stories in the comments below to cheer me up a bit. In what way did your mom demonstrate green living for you?