Getting to Know Grass: A Rant for Mother’s Day

Gaia, by Genevieve Haven





We put too much on our kids. That was my reaction when I read a recent eco-article in Orion magazine. The author lamented the lack of snow this last winter, but through her children’s eyes. She described how her children waited all winter to sled, the snow not coming until spring, but by then they were too discouraged to go out.

I wanted to shout at her, Get a Grip! Tell your kids to get out there! You’ve been waiting all winter for this! Do you think Mother Earth schedules for your sledding pleasure? And go with them! Throw a snowball! Make an angel!

My second reaction was compassion. This was not the author’s children’s despair and grief, but her own. Children tend to be in the present, not thinking how it used to be, although they orient off their parents’ emotional states. As understandable as this mother’s grief is, and any of us open to the environmental crisis we are in, share it, it is grief that lived out unconsciously through children can be injurious.
Yes, I too cannot help but reflect on the increasing moodiness of Mother Earth’s seasons. Here in California the floods of December insured a reasonable yearly rainfall total. But then, from January on, we weathered the driest stretch of any “rainy season” on record. Meanwhile snowstorms blanketed the upper Midwest in April and May, and floods submerged lands of the Mississippi Valley after a year of devastating droughts. Mother Earth is no longer as consistent as she used to be, and we know we are culpable. Our grief, acknowledged, is key to action.

Getting to know grass

But our children are just arriving. You can’t grieve for what you do not know. Their task is not activism but getting to know Her. Even in Her moods, she is stunningly beautiful and powerful. The carpenter bees still visit the hummingbird sage; the monarch, the milkweed; the honey bees, so much more promiscuous, seemingly everything in bloom. The sunrise still scoots across the sky with the seasons and if you can find a dark enough spot, the stars still tell stories.

Children love to observe, and even more so when they have company in learning the interrelationships. They need dirt to dig in and little creeks in which to wade. Let them explore the Kingdom of Grass.

One of the most important things we can do for Mother Earth, and for our children, is to enjoy Her, not in an exploitative but related fashion. Studies are suggesting that this needs to happen before age 12, or bonding with the Earth may not happen. She is not here for our use, whether that be strip mining— or sledding (it’s the attitude). We are part of the web of life of which Mother Earth is also part. Teaching our children to be recognize their part in this web, observant and respectful, is important.

Later when they get older, having had their own experiences of grass, dirt, and water, they may well have developed practices that serve life. Then may they too become activists, as I hope many of us adults are, and may that activism be of the heart.