Growing Up and Letting Go.
On the Farm . . . what's happening this week - 12/3/15.
Work outside has mostly been about covering rows of winter crops with low tunnels. The tunnels are a low cost, low-height way to create a protected environment for the produce. It consists of hoops, row cover, plastic, anchors and clips. After it is installed and secured against wind, we are able to crawl inside and harvest spinach, kale, arugula, chard, celery, carrots, parsley and other cold-hardy crops.
Our teenage son, Liam, has recently become very aware of climate change and naturally worries about the future - his as well as our planet's. His picture quickly becomes one of suffering and destruction. He agonizes over the enormity of the problem while lamenting the short-sightedness of previous generations to think human actions have no consequence on climate. Why did we let it get so bad he asks? I become depressed while discussing this issue with him. Will his children experience the world as we know it, or will it resemble one of those doomsday movies I avoid? I switch the focus of the conversation to ways we personally can minimize our effect such as: consolidating trips to town, adding more solar panels to the house, using rechargeable batteries, recycling and being aware of our carbon footprint. Liam’s response is, “yah, yah, yah . . . but what can I really do to change this? What job do I get to help? It’s our responsibility, Mom.” We brainstorm for a while - scientist, engineer, environmentalist, writer, politician among others are all possibilities. He wonders if traveling to places experiencing problems would help him be empathetic to other’s opinions and situations.
I listen to him make plans, proud of the person he is becoming and his willingness to apply himself yet scared. While I know he won’t live on our farm forever, the thought of him in a far away state experiencing flooding or in another country with horrible air pollution makes me wish he was little again (at least littler than me). I want to wrap him in my arms and protect him from the harshness of global problems.
Of course, it isn’t so easy. I can’t protect him much longer, nor should I. It will soon be his generation’s world after all. My job is to support him on this present day quest whatever career he decides to work towards, or even if his enthusiasm is replaced by a desire to move in a direction unrelated to today’s conversation (just please - not a politician!). And to accept that his life will be colored by the world he lives in just as mine has been. A world with problems but also incredible beauty (have you seen the photos of the Northern Lights making their way around on Facebook?) and, still, a world of opportunities. My generation needs to not only reduce, reuse, recycle, support leaders and candidates that recognize global warming and are driven to minimalize future damage but also to trust that his generation will move forward aware of climate change and willing, like he is today, to take up the challenge.
And as Liam's mother, I need to trust that having grown up in a loving community with a strong sense of place, will comfort him when I am no longer able to. He will be ok.