Day 4 – The paradox of the immaculate lawn: Food for thought... and bees!
Today I went to explore a location where I expected to find wildflowers… except the area had been mown and applied with herbicide in places the mower couldn’t reach. I’ve been deliberating whether or not to blog about this, but have decided to go ahead. I’m not going to divulge where in the Central Belt this specific place was, as that is not relevant to the reasons behind writing this entry. I feel that it is vital we question behaviours that we consider normal in order to evolve and make positive changes in our own lives for the greater good of our species, the fellow beings we share this earth with and the health of the environment in general. For this particular issue we are thankfully beginning to make headway. And I hope this blog entry contributes to this cause, while offering a unique perspective into an important issue.
Silence descends on the neighbourhood as I approach. A lone explorer dressed in orange and black travels through, scouring the area, but soon moves on unsatisfied. A place once alive, buzzing and colourful now a plain, uniform swathe of green; spattered with the wilting bodies of its many claimed victims.
Investigating closely it appears all is not completely lost. But the survivors are badly shaken. One, preferring not to be named, recounts her experience to me.
“They first arrived - these huge giants - with great containers mounted on their backs. Just a short visit, mind. Initially we thought they were bringing us water, which seemed a bit odd, ‘cos – you know, of all the rain we’ve had recently and that – but soon after, family members and friends were dropping down dead. Poisoned, there’s no other way to explain it. But there’s nothing much we could do about it. We’re so small and our voices too quiet to be heard. It was terrible, we just had to stand here and watch.”
I glance over to where she’s facing and see a strip of unsightly orange alongside a wall. After a silent pause, her face drops and she resumes in a terrified hush.
“Then they came…” She struggles to continue as she recounts the morning that everything changed. “…colossal vibrating monsters making the most horrifying roar. Slaves of the giants they were; being forced about and controlled by them. And they attacked our community. Ripped through the place with huge, glistening razor mouths. One second we were standing tall, the next everything was chaos. Nothing could be heard above the horrendous noise, but bodies and debris were flying everywhere. Some of us were lucky, we managed to drop low enough. Many were harmed, a lot of lives were lost.”
She falls into a sorrowful silence. Meanwhile a neighbour pipes up, explaining how vibrant and beautiful the area once was; how it buzzed with the excitement of their visiting flying friends who called in on each of them with a gentle hum and tender kiss.
“But they visit less and less now. I don’t understand why it’s been reduced to this, why anyone would want to hurt us and drive them away. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Around us more bodies emerge from the debris, battered, shaken and disfigured.
So many now stand alone, where once they would have been among a diverse culture of friends.
As I take my leave, I happen across a family who have been driven out of their natural home to live in less-than-adequate accommodation.
“It’s not a great situation to be in” one family member explains, “We don’t get to dance in the breeze, feel the sun on our faces or see blue sky, but we are alive, together and safe.”
I reflect on my encounter with those working to rebuild their lives after such a terrible ordeal. During my visit, several had heard word of things being different in other places; where kinder giants were visiting as friends, offering support and encouragement to the communities. I can only hope the same future awaits this neighbourhood. And hopefully, in time, their flying friends will return.
Things we, as individuals, can do to be “friendly giants”:
When outdoors, imagine being a hungry bee, butterfly or other pollinating insect. Look around. How much food is available? By understanding the plight of these insects, we have more understanding and awareness to empower positive change in our own behaviours.
Question how we manage our gardens: if the lawn is mown regularly, is it possible to leave an area to go wild? If pesticides and herbicides are applied, is ending their use really an unreasonable thing to consider doing?
Check out alternatives such as a grass-free lawn.
Plant insect-loving wild flower seeds. See Grow Wild for help, advice and seeds packs.
Make wildflower seed bombs and launch in places that could do with brightening up.
Find out about On the Verge campaign and write to your council to express an interest in applying this to your local area.
Buy organic (check out your local farmers market – veg stalls tend to be cheaper than supermarket equivalents, and you are also supporting locally grown, seasonal produce).
Sign this petition to stop bee-killing pesticides being reintroduced in the UK.
Talk about the issue. Share thoughts and have discussions with family members, friends, colleagues etc.
Why a paradox? We work so hard to get immaculate, perfect, “weed”-free lawns which serve to do nothing of any major benefit, and yet – aside from the basic right of pollinating insects having access to food to survive and flourish – we need to help them for our own sakes: without bees, many flowering plants won’t survive, and without flowering plants, we will have significantly less food!
“[A weed is] a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” Ralph Waldo Emerson