Sarah Robinson and I have been friends since our babies were bumps. We've been in and out of touch, but we have one of those wonderful connections that mean we can start up again, after years of separation, as though we hadn't missed a beat. She's always up to something interesting, whether writing a novel or lining her powder room with old New Yorker covers she's exacto-knifed off and glued to the wall.
Naturally, when she joined a start-up called Practically Green I paid attention. Sarah prodded me until I took their quiz to find out how green I was, and that's when I noticed what marketers have been telling us for years. Competition is motivating. We'll ask the hotel service not to change our towels when we read that that's what other guests do. We want to keep up with the Joneses, whether that means scaling up grandly, or being early adopters of Priuses. We climb that Practically Green ladder along with our friends at the jungle gym, but some of us have to get to the top fastest and first.
Well, between my friend (and Moms Clean Air Force colleague) Ronnie over at EcoNesting, and Sarah, I'm scrambling to keep up my green creds. Ever since I took that quiz, I've been looking around at what else I could do in my daily life to be more conscientious about both using energy efficiently, and not wasting it. One reader of Slow Love Life, Warren, recently wrote to us about learning that his cable box was burning energy 24/7, whether or not he was watching a show. He referred to an article in the New York Times. Some home entertainment systems burn more energy than refrigerators and central air conditioning systems. When last heard from, he was still hoping for help from the Cable Guy.
Then I came across an article about green curtains, and thought, ah-ha, bet Sarah hasn't stumbled on this nifty little idea yet. Green windows have become popular in Japan, post tsunami, because there isn't enough energy to power all the air conditioners in the heat of the summer. The green windows act as shades, keeping rooms a bit cooler.
One of the difficult things about working at home, I've learned, is that I am always at work. It is too easy to sit down at my desk after dinner, and write into the night, and then pick it up again early the next morning, without a break. And if I do give myself a rest, I feel guilty and nervous. (I know, I know: that's why I look for those slow love breaks, such as gazing at sun coming through the veins in the leaves creeping over the window....)
But one of the wonderful things about working at home is that I get to watch the play of light over my things throughout the day--the way the sunshine picks out the lines of a piece of sculpture, or throws a shadow across a table. A small delight, pleasurable nonetheless. I used to collect glass, but had never noticed until recently how it glowed in the late afternoon sun. I'm sure there is something green about this.
Ah yes: Let yourself be enchanted with what can be seen only by sunlight.
And at night, turn off all the lights and watch the fireflies sparkle up the long meadow grass. Or have an evening of candles only...easier to do with summer's longer days. There's something especially blissful about a tepid, fragrant bath by candlelight after a day of weeding.
My friend Abby and I are at dinner. In walks Sarah with daughter Mary (the fellow bump), just graduated from college, having won passels of poetry prizes. Proud Sarah sent me one, about clothing from a consignment shop, that was quite moving in its ambiguity, and defiance--what was being reused, a dress? or a person? I greet mom and daughter, introduce Abby, and then notice that Mary is wearing a sweater from the local thrift shop that I had bought and given to her mom a year or two ago. It looks great on Mary, who loves it, she says. Abby peers at the sweater, then peers some more, and says, Wait a minute! I'm sure that sweater was knitted by my aunt!
Small world. We thought that was a great thrift shop story until Hope came to the table and told us about a friend who wore a string of pearls she had bought for ten dollars at the same thrift shop, only to be told, months later, upon examination by a Man Who Knows His Stuff, that said pearls were extremely valuable...
That's what happens when children clean out closets.
Race you to the thrift shop!