Archive for April, 2008

Disk Golf–An Eco-Friendly Alternative to Golf

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

     I’ve just learned about a relatively new sport that is both green and cheap.  And it’s modeled after a sport that is neither.  Disk golf, played with Frisbee-like disks, is similar to ‘regular’ golf in that it is played on a course.  Players use putter disks and driver disks, or just a regular Frisbee.  The goal of the game is to sink a disk into each basket on the course in as few shots as possible.  Par is typically 3 shots.  And a disk golf course may have 9, 18, or 27 holes, –or baskets.

     Disk golf is much more environmentally-friendly than ball golf.  Unlike ‘regular’ golf courses, disk golf courses have not been altered to create long expanses of green that must be maintained by extensive watering and the application of harmful pesticides.  Disk golf courses are left pretty much in their existing state, and they may be found in campgrounds, in parks, and even on college campuses.  There are also forest courses.  Trees are not cut to make way for the golfers;  instead, standing trees  provide the golfers with beauty and a little extra challenge. 

     Also unlike ball golf, disk golf is inexpensive.  With an $8-$10 investment, you can get a disk.  Or if you’re a serious competitor, you might invest as much as $50 for a variety of disks appropriate for different types of shots.  The courses are often free to play, and those that are not cost in the order of $5 a day.  

     The number of people playing ball golf is declining, experts report, due to the cost and the time it takes away from  family.  Disk golf, however, is growing in popularity.  Inexpensive, it is also a great activity for the whole family.  

     Another beauty of disk golf is that it can be played just about anywhere.  Players need not seek out one of the 2,600 established courses in the U.S.  With a portable basket (available for about $200) and a few disks, a family or a group of friends can play the game in a park, in a forest, in a field, or on the beach. 

     “Disk golf is great exercise, as well as fun for all ages,” notes Addie Isbell, Membership Manager at the Professional Disk Golf Association, based in Appling, Georgia.  It’s easy for me to imagine that people who enjoy playing Frisbee, who like to run and are very physically active, would enjoy disk golf.  But how about those who love their ball golf game?  “Many of them report that disk golfing is so much fun that it’s addictive,” says Isbell. 

     Interested in joining the more than 200,000 Americans who are already enjoying disk golf?  Vsit the Professional Disk Golf Association at http://www.pdga.com/ for more information about the game, the location of courses near you, and how to purchase equipment.

–April Moore 

Green Giants: Our Love Affair with Trees

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

     Below are some excerpts from an article published on April 25 in the British publication THE INDEPENDENT.  The writer expresses well the delight millions of us tree lovers experience every spring.  And the writer asks a provocative question.  Just WHY do we love big, beautiful trees so much? Do we carry this love in our genes, from hundreds of generations ago, before we became farmers, when we lived in the forests?–April Moore

     On the way to work tomorrow, as you hurry, head bowed, to the crowded bus-stop or station, or pause in the car at the red traffic light, feeling your blood pressure start to mount as you see that, on the other side of the junction, the traffic still isn’t moving, do yourself a massive favour: look up.What may swim into your line of sight is greenery. We’ve been without it for five months, do you realise? And now it’s back. Those things called trees, those tall roadside posts that for the whole winter long you haven’t glanced at, that have seemed no more than dark straggly alternative streetlamps without the lighting, have suddenly in the past 10 days sprouted life, and now, this week, are at their most intense.

     For example, look at the horse chestnuts, the conker trees beloved of schoolboys, if you live in an area lucky enough to have them. Go on, look. Once you do, you’d have to have a soul made of concrete not be stirred, for right now, at least in southern Britain, the buds have just burst and the leaves have poured forth and they are of a quite spectacular colour. It’s green, of course, but it’s a special green, it is more than emerald, it is iridescent, as if the leaves were fresh-painted, as if they were glowing from the inside.

     Cherry blossom and apple blossom is out now in gardens, as are the lilacs, and in hawthorn hedges there is a green mist of leaf wrapped around the branches. Greenery is bursting out everywhere on the trees in our towns and cities and suburbs, so much so that if you do look up from the slog to work and catch a glimpse of it, your soul will lift.

     Why do we love trees? We can think of many practical reasons – the wood, the shade, the shelter, the apples, the pears – but there are deeper reasons too. Beauty is obviously one.     

     It isn’t only trees in spring blossom that move us; trees in autumn colours are another still-life firework display. Even trees in high summer, the least interesting part of the period in leaf, can provide a spectacle, such as the beeches of the woodlands of the Chilterns, whose tall, straight trunks, combined with the light falling between them, give the appearance of leafy cathedrals.

      Yet perhaps there is something even beyond beauty in our attachment to the oak and the ash, the lime and the hornbeam, the yew and the Scots pine. In the last 20 years the new discipline of evolutionary psychology has made many suggestive interpretations of the origins of human feeling, taking them back to our distant ancestors; the rationale is that we have been office workers for four generations, and we were farmers for about 400 generations; but before farming, we were hunter-gatherers for 20,000 generations or more, and much of our genetic make up must have been constructed then.

     There’s no proof of this, of course; there can only be suggestions, but they are powerful ones (why do all children like to hide? Because the children who didn’t hide, when the predators or the attackers came, didn’t survive to pass on their genes). Is there perhaps something in us that goes far, far back, to account for our love of trees, something more than beauty or utility? Some deeper attachment formed during the aeons when we lived in the forest?

     It’s fanciful, of course it is, especially now most of us only have the street, the house, or the block of flats; and we can never know. But we do know that when the trees that grace our street, our road, our courtyard, are threatened with toppling, we do not like it one bit.

To read the entire article,

FROM THE GOOD TO THE SACRED

Friday, April 25th, 2008

            Two major events are converging in my life.  One is the launch of my website TheEarthConnection.org., which I have created to inspire and strengthen people who love the earth.  The other is the return my husband and I are planning to our home on a mountain ridge in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

           

I would like to explain why we are moving back to Virginia.  That way, you will also understand just what TheEarthConnection.org is about for me.

           

My husband Andy and I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  His work and our son’s education brought us here from Virginia six years ago.  While it has been two years since those endeavors were completed, we are still here.  We have a nice life in Albuquerque.   Our house is full of bright New Mexico sunshine.  And I am looking out our large picture window right now at the Sandia Mountains, with only a lovely red maple, pinyon pines, and birds at the feeder to obscure any of the mountain view.

 

            We have wonderful neighbors, and we have made good friends here.  Andy and I are part of a movie group.  And I am a member of two very engaging groups of women—one that delves into dreams, the other into literary classics.  We are well aware that there is a lot we will miss about our Albuquerque lives.   

           

But there is something even deeper calling us.  It is Supinlick Ridge in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where Andy, our son, and I lived for a decade.  We loved the place so much that when we made our westward move, we didn’t sell our house.  Although we had no idea what the future held, we couldn’t part with the place.

           

Then last September, Andy and I returned to our Virginia home to clean up after some swinish tenants.  The place was in bad shape–damaged, overgrown, with trash of a surprising variety of types strewn all over the land.  But in what might have been a dispiriting setting, we were ecstatic!  Camping in our trashed house for a week, we felt so happy to be back in the woods on the mountainside! 

 

Every day for a week, we scrubbed, swept, and picked up trash.  We

also drank deeply of the nature that surrounded us.  I breathed in the forest’s heavenly autumn fragrance that I remembered so happily—the scent of sun on dried leaves.  The sounds of breezes, rustling the leaves on the trees, now faint, now louder, pleased me.  And the sight of a pileated woodpecker making its way easily along the valley made me smile with delight.  And then there were my daily meditations, sitting on the horizontal ‘bench’ portion of a living tree—the best church ever.

 

It is that place, the call of the earth to my spirit and to Andy’s, that is urging  us to leave our full life in Albuquerque.  And it is the nourishment and inspiration I find in that place that I want to bring to you when you visit TheEarthConnection.org. 

 

I have long known that the deep nourishment I derive from my contact with the natural world is essential to my well-being.  And I believe that all of us humans, whether we know it or not, can be nourished deeply by contact with nature–if we are open to it.  Nature is—well, our true nature.  We need to know that we are inseparable from it, that damage to the planet and its species hurts us too. 

 

When we take in the sustenance that Mother Nature so abundantly offers us, when we let our experience with nature strengthen us, we can gain the strength to act on the earth’s behalf, rather than let ourselves sink into despair at the enormity of the challenge.

 

So we need to do things that nourish our spirit, that awaken our sense of wonder, and that remind us that our birthright is a loving union with our planet.  If we can let this connection feed us deeply, we can gain the strength to deal with the environmental crisis that will be with us for the rest of our lives. 

 

And the project is enormous.  After all, humanity is not even headed in the right direction yet.  Our carbon emissions are still increasing, even though we know that survival depends on bringing emissions down steadily and significantly.

 

But if we are nourished by our love for the earth, by our awe of natural beauty, and by our delight in our experiences with the natural world, then we can gain the strength we need to put our shoulder to the wheel in these difficult times.

 

So I am returning to Virginia to experience that nourishment every day, to be filled by my surroundings–the green mountain vista, the storms that roll through the valley, the sounds of a whippoorwill on a summer night, the forest’s inviting walks.  What a balm to my spirit when all around me the wonders of nature are far more evident than humanity’s tinkerings.

 

As I go off to Virginia to nourish my soul, I am trying to do the same for you at TheEarthConnection.org.  I am working to create a place where you can reliably feel your own connection with nature, and where you can let Mother Earth nourish and strengthen you for the essential work of healing our planet.

 

April Moore

Tips for Greener Computer Use

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

     Ever wonder how you can minimize the environmental impact of your computer use?  For starters, follow these three tips, offered by the Sierra Club.  

1.   The average laptop uses just 1/5 the energy of a desktop PC.  So if you’re going to own just one computer, how about a laptop instead of a desktop model?  But if you do need a desktop model, consider a ‘small form-factor’ PC, rather than the biggest desktop you can afford.  The smaller desktops draw less power than the larger models.

2.  It’s more energy-efficient to shut down your computer when you’re not using it than to leave it running.  The surge of power a PC uses to boot up is far less than the energy it uses when left on for more than three minutes.  So, if it’s at all practical, shut down your computer when you’re not using it.

3.  Save energy when purchasing a computer by choosing one that has been awarded the EPA’s Energy Star for energy efficiency.  To find out which PC models currently make the grade, visit http://energystar.gov/    

Inspiration from Mary Oliver

Monday, April 21st, 2008

     This untitled poem/prayer by Mary Oliver speaks to me of a very strong and deep love that is available to all of us, no matter what, when we open our heart and our senses to the earth.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Wise Words from Jonas Salk

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

     “Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors,” once stated Jonas Salk, the scientist who developed the first effective polio vaccine.

     I was immediately drawn to this quotation when I came across it yesterday.  There is deep wisdom in these few words.   Taking Salk’s words to heart means thinking very carefully about how the way we live today will affect the world we leave to our great-great-grandchildren.

     And Salk’s comment reminds me of the ancient Iroquois principle of responsibility to the seventh generation after one’s own.  Such wisdom. 

      

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