Observant readers may have noted a new category of post, which I’ve labelled “Conservationist Living.” When considering a title for this particular type of post, my first thought was “Green Living,” but that’s too trendy and not really what I mean.
I was born and raised a conservationist. I’m not sure what people might mean by that label today, but in my family it meant someone who loved the world of nature, cared for it, and used it prudently and wisely. Conservationists loved hiking, mountain climbing, camping, and picnics. They never threw litter on the ground and didn’t waste water. They knew the rules of the wilderness: how to build a safe fire, pitch a tent on dry ground, keep food out of the reach of bears, dig a latrine that would not pollute the water supply, and leave. At a conservationist’s home one was likely to find a lovingly-tended garden, with bright flowers and the best-tasting vegetables in the world—and a compost pile.
The conservationist label was broad and inclusive. If I dared curse hunters—because the coming of hunting season meant we couldn’t hike during some of the most beautiful weather of the year, and anyway how could they kill those darling deer—I was quickly reminded that the hunters and fishermen were some of the most ardent protectors of nature because they had a personal interest in the survival and health of wilderness areas, and anyway the deer they killed provided their dinners, just as cattle were killed to supply my Saturday-night hamburgers. When I grumbled that the rest of the state was controlled by voters in New York City whose concerns were far different from ours, I was informed that it was the votes of those city dwellers against the interests of Upstate developers that had protected our beloved Adirondack Mountains. Conservationism had a common-sense, “we’re all in this together” feeling about it.
Not so the environmentalism that superseded it. Environmentalism’s strident tone and us-against-them attitude was possibly the impetus needed to accomplish quickly what conservationism was achieving slowly—perhaps too slowly. But it also opened the door to backlash, to the polarization that had some people celebrating the recent Earth Hour by turning off their lights and other electrical devices, and others marking the occasion by consuming as much power as possible. While conservationism easily crossed the Liberal/Conservative divide, environmentalism widened the gap to a chasm.
Hence my wish to return to what I see as a friendlier, more inclusive and constructive label. We are all in this together. What I post in this category will include conservationist suggestions gleaned from elsewhere as well as our own very modest attempts to live and promote that common-sense conservationism of my childhood. There will be no preaching—at least none intended as such—because we all can’t do everything, certainly not in all stages of our lives. But we can all do something, and encourage each other along the way.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. — Edward Everett Hale