I wrote this post as an open letter to my community in Maine:
Dear friends and neighbors. As our winter-weary hearts turn toward the warmth and rebirth of spring, I extend what I hope is a compelling invitation – to consider “natural is the new perfect” on your lawn and landscapes. By natural I mean no ‘Cides – pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. A flawless lawn is precisely un-natural, and in our crucial race to keep up with the Joneses we are killing ourselves, and poisoning birds, bees, fish and other aquatic life.
I could delve deeply into science here, citing studies of how 30 commonly used ‘Cides are linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone scrambling, and kidney/liver damage. But we already know how harmful ‘Cides are. It’s hard to ignore those little signs that our law requires sprayers to place on a recently-sprayed lawn – the ones showing a parent, child, and pet in a circle with a line drawn through it. CAUTION. Don’t walk here. Pesticides used.
In his book, “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible,” Charles Eisenstein suggests that dousing our planet in ‘Cides is like damaging the organs of the earth at the tissue level. How can that be good? Yet it is up to us to reject these chemicals since our government, silenced by money from large chemical corporations, refuses to do so despite billions in recent lawsuit verdicts (as in the case of glyphosate, found in RoundUp, among the deadliest pesticides, especially for honeybees).
Adopting a “natural is the new perfect” mindset means rethinking what beauty looks like.
Are dandelions beautiful? Dandelions, spurned as a weed, are crucial early food for bees, and their greens are loaded with vitamins K, A, C, and B for our consumption. Milkweed is another example. As the monarch caterpillar’s sole food source, and in whose leaves monarch butterflies deposit their eggs, milkweed is vital for the monarch species which has lost over 90% of its population.
*I know, it’s hard! It takes courage to speak up on behalf of our wildlife kin amid pressure to remain in a story of “perfect.”*
Imagine what an all-natural community could look like: lawns rowdy with dandelions, bluets, and wild strawberries; garden beds replete with milkweed, blue vervain, bunchberry, and aster; the hum of bees foraging on these native wildflowers; our delight in watching butterflies and dragonflies, and in once again seeing fireflies and bats in the twilight sky.
You may recall a powerful scene in the movie “Out of Africa” when Karen Blixen, played by Meryl Streep, greets the new Kenyan governor. Much to the shock of the gathered gentry, she falls to her knees to beg safe haven for the voiceless – the tribal Kĩkũyũ people.
When I see a CAUTION pesticide sign, I want to knock on the homeowner’s door and fall to my knees to beg on behalf of the voiceless – pollinators and birds, fish and wildlife up the eco-chain who are poisoned or compromised at the hands of a human species whose mindset is fixated on flawless and perfect. This is not natural.
You get to choose, friends, and I hope you’ll join me in support of LIFE. Together we can create all-natural landscapes. Because natural can truly be the new perfect.