One of the great pleasures of farm life is taking walks in the late afternoon, when the sunlight slants low and golden over fields, stone walls, pond, and barns. There’s a deep tranquility in this hour—the horses put up for the night, no tractors running or cars driving in, and instead the sounds of birdsong, my own footfalls crunching on farm lanes or swishing through grass, the dogs sniffing around, their tags jingling. The soft, warm light illuminates beauty everywhere, whether striking a lush meadow or a fallen tree, the water’s mirrored surface or the horse-chewed, dark green doors of a simple white barn.
Today the air grew warmer all afternoon. At half-past five it was mild and still. I walked with the dogs, taking in the scene and stopping here and there to consider this season’s projects: fencing new paddocks, tree trimming, tree planting, building and planting a vegetable garden. All the various trees here are beginning to think of spring, the willow leading with its yellow leaf-sprouts. A lone duck floated and preened in the secluded back section of the pond. The horses enjoyed their open stall windows, standing with their heads out in the fresh temperate air.
I’m reflecting today on what a gift it is to live so connected to the natural world, with animals, in the rustic beauty and peace of the farm. This week the horses themselves gave me a lot to be thankful for—more on that soon… But first, in the spirit of Earth Day, I’m focused on the way we live. In this era of consuming, disposing and polluting, how can we rein all that in, for the health of our planet and ourselves?
That’s clearly a bigger conversation, but here are a few simple ideas for day-to-day living:
- Reduce the use of plastic (toxic to us and the earth). Instead of plastic water bottles, buy an insulated, reusable water bottle and thermos and a water filter. Replace ziplock bags with these nontoxic reusable food wraps. Use glass food storage containers. Instead of those zillions of plastic produce bags at the grocery, try these. Get a sturdy shopping basket and some canvas totes and remember to take them with you!
- Go green in cleaning and personal care products. This requires reading labels, as many brands at health food stores are still not all that clean. Nix the sulfates and the “fragrance” or “parfum,” terms which are often used to hide chemicals. Clean floors and windows with vinegar-water solution; find sulfate-free dish soap, laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner. Choose nontoxic shampoo, conditioner and soap.
- Take a moment to slow down and notice the natural world, even if it’s just the sky between city buildings, or a plant in a window box, or a field you drive past every day. This connecting is where we find wellbeing and calm—and it’s what reminds us to live responsibly.
A few scenes from the farm: