Along the spectrum of "greenness" I have friends whom I would designate as the darkest green to the left on the chart above. If I were to designate my place on this scale, it would be midpoint of the second square to the right (and that is perhaps being too generous with myself). I'm not even a vegetarian, much less a vegan, although I eat meat rarely--once or twice a week and mostly the meat is fish. But I am making progress: I'm eating more of my vegetables raw and almost every day I eat greens.
Moving Up on the Green Spectrum
Just the other day I was in Home Depot with a friend and I talked him out of buying some pesticide to kill some pesky box elder bugs. [I did so by promising to find an organic solution to getting rid of the bugs.]
It is precisely at that juncture (organic way to get rid of bugs) that I separate from my more Kermitesque friends. Many folks think that we should not do anything mean to any bug. They believe that bugs are there for a good natural reason and we should let them be. They have a point and I appreciate it. In fact, there are many cases where people have introduced insects to eat other insects only to have the organic killing machines become pests themselves. It's not always easy to find the happy medium, or even learn if there is one. Sometimes it seems as if we often have two choices: poison our ground water and soil or upset the balance of nature with our "organic" solutions. But again, where is that area where we draw the line? It is a line that to a great extent, is left up to the individual. Some folks go so far as to only eat fallen fruit. I sincerely doubt I will ever evolve or dissolve to that green marker.
My solution for the box elder bugs (I have these pests too) is to get out there on a warm day with a fly swatter. As I murder them by the thousands I also chant Hail Marys. Of course, my deep green friends are outraged by my behavior, but I find that I can live with it. I find that following the swatting routine for about two hours every day for three days works. I have to do this about three times a year.
My yard has been a pesticide-free zone for five years now. Murdering the bugs by hand is my pest control system, but don't tell my deep-green friends.
Our Artificial World
Our world, particularly in the USA, is so artificial that we sometimes don't even notice any more what is real and what is not. We have become like those people in Plato's cave allegory watching a shadow puppet show on the walls of the cave and thinking the shadows are real. We Americans have a tendency to even admire artifice. "Gee, that looks so real, I thought it was a real flower, a real bee, a real bird, a real kid, etc." We pay hundreds of dollars to take our children to visit fake plastic places like Disneyland. Our admiration for the artificial is boundless.
The Hummingbird Feeder
I like to think I'm above it all, but deep down I know better. Here's a case in point: As you may know, I'm a member of Loving Garland Green. A couple of days ago I saw the cutest thing in an old Bird and Garden book that Charlie gave me. I thought: "Wow! I'm going to make those with my grandchildren and then perhaps we will offer a class at the Garland Community Garden to make them later this spring." They are hummingbird feeders. You make them with a test tube with a lid, some copper wire, some yard, a small suction cup like those on the end of kid's toy arrows, and a plastic or silk flower from which you've removed the fake stamen. (You can figure out the rest as I'm not providing instructions.)
I was actually all excited about this idea but then reason overtook me: Wait a minute! I'm going to make a device to encourage a hummingbird to suck sugar water out of a plastic flower? Something is really wrong with that idea. I don't even have to be a scientist to understand that.
What I'm going to do instead is plant plenty of flowers this year--for the hummingbirds, butterflies and the bees. At the top of my list is Asclepias curassavica or tropical milkweed. I successfully grew this flower in my garden last year. It flowered from July until the end of October. Bees love it. I saved seeds.
Other common names for this flower include scarlet milkweed, Mexican milkweed, Blood flower, and Silk Weed. Read more.
From my garden early October 2013: