Friday, April 2, 2010

Putting the Earth back into Earth Mama

It has occurred to me, that this is going to turn into the "food earth mama" blog if I don't start covering other topics too. Of course, that's because currently all of my research is directed towards food, reading all of Pollan's works and the Safron Foer book. As a result, I am making some fairly drastic changes to my eating and cooking habits that seem worth sharing. Plus, the changes certainly fit under the "Hippie Earth Mama" lifestyle, but I don't want this blog to become too focused on one aspect of that, so I will digress for a few posts...

This morning, I pulled out the sunscreen. The past two days I've taken James to Cantigny park, a huge property full of flowers (well soon to be full of flowers anyways), open grass, and off to the side, a military museum. We got a membership there because it was only $60 for the year, and I wanted to have two options of places to take James to play with having no yard. We already have an arboretum pass, so this seemed like a logical compliment. Yesterday, when we came home, James had gotten no color, and somehow I had gotten a minor sunburn! So I've pulled out the sunblock for me and Alex, my nephew, and will take the boys there this afternoon.

The past few days, and looking ahead to this afternoon and this spring, Cantigny really signifies the Earth part of "Hippie Earth Mama" to me. I had read somewhere that it is a good idea to let babies walk around in barefeet because shoes and even socks can hinder them from learning proper balance and foot striking. Cantigny seemed like the perfect place to put that into effect - allowing James to feel the earth and grass under his feet. While there, it occurred to me that I would probably benefit from some barefoot time as well, so I kicked off my shoes and played in the grass with James. This foot/earth connection really caused me to think. First, I felt more connected with the earth, not having a man made inch of shoe to seperate us. Second, it caused me to stop and think about how this grass is maintained. At Cantigny, because it is an audobon certified property, I don't need to worry about pesticides, and toxic chemicals, but even at a park district park I do. I literally just read in the park district catolog about how they "have" to use pesticides and toxic chemicals and blah blah blah. Interesting considering the grass has grown for thousands of years without chemicals, but hey, what does mother nature know? Anyways, can I, with good conscience, really allow my son to go barefoot in chemicals? What will his skin absorb? What will get on his hands and eventually, as we all know, into his mouth? And why has this world become so science based that nature is no longer allowed to do what it does best?

Sitting out at Cantigny, I also developed an appreciation for the sun. It was definitely on the warm side, and will only get hotter as the summer approaches, but for now, it's comfortably warm, and it feels as though it is helping not just the plants, but us humans grow as well. It's no suprise that spending as little as 90 minutes per week in the sun have the same effects as taking prozac daily. After spending time in the sun, my body feels more tired, but in a good way. Phil and I were discussing this and we both came up with two theories that are likely wrong, but indicate the sun's massive power and benefits. He hypothecized that the human body spends more energy processing the sun than living in climate control, and it causes fatigue, whereas I assumed spending time in the sun put our bodies more in line with the natural rhythyms of the sun and caused us to be tired when the sun went away. Both or neither might be true, and it doesn't matter, because regardless, the sun is a powerful tool. James has a vitamin D deficiency. Sunblocks prevent the absorption of this important vitamin, so these early spring days where he can be sunblock free are important so he can soak up as much of the vitamin D as possible. In talking to the endochronologist, we learned that a vitamin D deficiency (present in 76% of caucasian North Americans) can cause fatigue, headaches, and general sluggishness.

Another thing Cantigny provides is nothing. That seems like I'm being silly, but it's true. James and I can sit in the grass just playing with the grass and sticks for literally an hour and a half, and we are happy. Neither the baby nor the adult gets bored. Granted, I expect that once we add a four year old into the mix this afternoon we'll probably have to introduce a playground ball, but still, the three of us will manage to have a blast without our computers, TVs, radios, or climate control. That is beneficial for us in particular, but also the earth, as we won't be using electricity during that time.

It's amazing how sustainable the earth is, and what rejuvinating effects it can have on us are. I have always shunned barefooting in the past, but now, I am advocating for it, saying "kick off those shoes and feel that cool earth" - it might really change your viewpoint!

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