‘It’s not easy being green’. Ahhh, Kermit, how right you are, even for a frog.
You see, when I first became a mother, I decided to start attending the local sustainable farming field days, in an attempt to simultaneously give me an interest outside of motherhood and educate myself how to responsibly look after our property. Off I went, with Thomas strapped to my back, notebook in hand. At the first meeting during the introductions, I recall a local landholder introducing himself thus ‘I am probably the only real greenie here today’. HEY! I was somewhat offended – I turn off my lights… when I remember; put my plastic containers and paper in the recycling bin; try to buy local products – such a shame they often cost more; don’t use chemicals on the farm (and goodness, don’t we have a lot of weeds!); and believe in global warming. So, ummm, aren’t I a greenie, kind of, too?
There is a growing sense of pride amongst landholders to be thought of as ‘green’. I am guilty of it too, embracing the general ethos of ‘greeness’ without actually strapping myself to a tree. Green, green, green! But what IS being green really? Apparently, not this:
- I embrace having cattle (whose footprint by some is said to be detrimental to the environment thanks to the type of hoof they have which compacts the soil – I mean really, they can’t help the shape of their foot and their weight. Their propensity for ‘passing wind’ is also against their green credentials – you’d be guilty of it too if you had to eat that much regurgitated grass. And don’t forget, their manure is very useful! And put your hand up if you love a good steak?! (hmm… very hard to type with one hand up. But no, I haven’t eaten meat off my own paddocks… not emotionally ready yet).
- I haven’t installed solar (still waiting on that lottery win… again, must buy ticket).
- I have a flush toilet.
- I suspect lots of other things.
And I guess the last nail in my greenie coffin is the fact that I just gave the go-ahead to a team of arborists to chop down 5 huge eucalyptus trees – and I found it psychopathically fascinating.
Hmmm… my green status suddenly isn’t looking so good.
In my defence, I had held off for 10 years, swearing I couldn’t cut down those trees, and ‘didn’t they look lovely flush up against the house like that, keeping it cool’. But when the trees groaned and swayed under the weight of the southeasterly winds, and Dougal would worry about us being found squashed in our beds; when season after season passed and we still couldn’t drink our water (leaves in the gutter) and were bathing in something that looked like tea, something snapped. Enough, was enough.
The trees had to go. I picked up the phone.
Arborists, you may or may not know, are notoriously costly. So of course my first thought was trying to cheat and get the ‘bushies’ out to chop them down. Dougal did a bit of local pub networking, but they wouldn’t touch them.
‘Hmmmm… yes, they are very high aren’t they? And wow your house really is very close to them… Interesting how they are all leaning over your roof. Can’t guarantee we won’t hit anything.’
I picked up the phone again. One arborist quoted all the latin names of the trees (very impressive) but never phoned me back. Then I hit on John. It took 6 months of waiting for him and his team, but it was worth it. And $2000 for 5 trees isn’t too bad I suppose – imagine if I was in Sydney! Ahhh, the advantages of living in the country!!! (What’s that? If I lived in Sydney I wouldn’t have had 5 trees to chop down in the first place?)…
Watching them work was like watching a team of chainsaw wielding monkeys swinging through trees high up off the ground, defying gravity as well as sanity. As John said “Workcover tends to leave us alone. We’re a bit hard”. We were all riveted. “Timber!” we cried out, over and over again. 6 hours later my small house forest was decimated, lying on the ground like a scene from the apocalypse. And wow – wasn’t the view amazing!!
Oops. Guiltily, I have to confess, I love it. The house is brighter, somehow fresher, my clothes and shoes less mouldy… Ahhhhh… Nothing like a dose of natural pine-o-clean.
And to soothe my battered conscience, we can recycle some of the timber into posts for a shed, and burn the rest off in the fireplace over several winters…
…Not sure what the carbon emitted from the fireplace smoke means for those increasingly dubious green credentials of mine, but as Kermit said ‘it’s not easy being green’! Really, if he only knew…