The Fight of our Lives

I doubt I would’ve started Solar Mowing if carbon dioxide wasn’t a major cause of climate change. The smells and noise made by lawn mowers, trimmers, and blowers might not even bother me that much.

carbon-emissions-coalCigarette smoke didn’t bother me before I understood how deadly it is to smokers — and to nonsmokers. After seeing lung cancer up close, I can barely stand the smell of a lit cigarette. It smells like disease and death. And gas-powered lawn equipment, to me, smells like a planet burning.

Climate change is the issue that will define our time and our children’s time. Which is why I want you to know about a movie premiering this Sunday, September 7 at 7 pm. Disruption, about the “science, politics, and movement around climate change,” can be seen for free at these and other venues.

1.  Butler Conference Room, American University, Wash., DC
2.  A private home in Takoma Park, MD
3.  Bar Pilar, 14th & T, NW, Wash., DC

Watch the movie trailer here.

ClimateMarchLogoTwo weeks later, you may want to attend what organizers hope will be the “largest public demonstration against climate change in history.”

The People’s Climate March will be held in New York City, September 21, 2014, starting at 11:30. 

Do I think replacing 100 or 500 gas-powered lawn mowers with clean mowers will prevent glaciers in West Antarctica from collapsing or storms worldwide from worsening? In a word, no.

But as Disruption makes clear, climate change is the fight of our lives. And like many of you, I’m a fighter.

If a Milkweed is a Bully, is it still Beneficial?

At first, I thought morning glory (Ipomoea L.) was twisting over and through the swamp rose (Rosa palustris), a Maryland native growing in my rain garden. It had those unmistakable (or in this case, mistakable) heart-shaped leaves, and morning glory has been creeping everywhere since I planted three seeds 18 years ago. In these parts, the annual morning glory is a definite perennial.

Creeping noiselessly over, under, and through a swamp rose is the poorly behaved honey vine and its dangling milky pod.

Creeping over and through a swamp rose is the beneficial bully honeyvine.

But then, I spotted milky pods — and the garden plot thickened. :)

Turns out my swamp rose is in the grip of honeyvine (Cynanchum leave), a member of the milkweed family, that not only attracts bees, birds, and butterflies, including monarchs for which it serves as host to its young, it’s drought-tolerant and deer-resistant. Oh, and people hate it.

Because it’s a bully. I’m convinced that plants are every bit as complicated as people.

An 11"-by-11" painting made with pigments from  Rosa multiflora, Mahonia bealei, Lonicera maackii and weed soot on paper from Morus alba. Acer platanus

An 11″-by-11″ painting made, in part, with multiflora rosa (Rosa multiflora), bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), and white mulberry (Morus alba).

And while we’re on the subject of invasives … we are, aren’t we? … Washington Post illustrator and volunteer land steward, Patterson Clark pulls invasives in mass quantities from public and private lands in Washington, DC. Then he does something remarkable: He processes all that noxious plant material into pigment and paper and makes art.

You can see Clark’s weed work at the Atrium Gallery in McLean, VA, from September 11-October 25.

And so I have to ask: Mr. Clark, do you walk by honeyvine or turn it into art?