Attribution below

The perfect lawn:

trim green symbol

of decency

no place for rabbits

frogs or snakes

no rabid wildflowers

or thistle outbreaks

In a kingdom of mowed grasses 

propriety reigns

only dress suits and ties

in its domain

A path through wildness

posed as the only way

dines on fuel and pesticides

a toxic buffet.


Many of us, including myself, are in recovery from the illusion of lawns, a human artifact.

This Wikipedia excerpt provides some background:

A lawn is an area of soil-covered land planted with grasses or (rarely) other durable plants such as clover which are maintained at a short height with a lawnmower and used for aesthetic and recreational purposes. Common characteristics of a lawn are that it is composed only of grass species, it is subject to weed and pest control, it is subject to practices aimed at maintaining its green color (e.g., watering), and it is regularly mowed to ensure an acceptable length, although these characteristics are not binding as a definition. Lawns are used around houses, apartments, commercial buildings and offices. Many city parks also have large lawn areas. In recreational contexts, the specialised names turf, pitch, field or green may be used, depending on the sport and the continent.

The term “lawn”, referring to a managed grass space, dates to no earlier than the 16th century. Tied to suburban expansion and the creation of the household aesthetic, the lawn is an important aspect of the interaction between the natural environment and the constructed urban and suburban space. In many suburban areas, there are bylaws in place requiring houses to have lawns and requiring the proper maintenance of these lawns…

Photo credit: “Svenska: Lötstugan i Bärbo socken, Nyköpings kommun” by T.S. Eriksson, Creative Commons License CC BY-SA 3.0.

©2017 Ontheland

A global tragedy

If you are anything like me, you hear about events in the news while in the middle of doing something else and therefore catch only half the story. You might catch the other half on subsequent airings or you might be left with only a vague impression. If you are interested in a concise summary of how the United States government is reversing climate protection laws, designed to meet obligations under a SIGNED International Agreement, please read on.



Ancient turtles,

basking on a verdant log,

stretch up to the sun.

©2017, Ontheland

The backstory:  Turtles are on my mind—I recently received an email notifying me that all but one species of Ontario turtles are facing possible extinction.  Snapping turtles are particularly at risk as hunting them is still permitted, their wetland habitats have diminished and they are often killed on roadways.  I read recently that turtles are among the oldest of reptiles, having evolved millions of years ago. This seems to make them even more precious.


 Common Snapping Turtle by Dakota L. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The first photo is in the public domain and made available by

Staying on track

The train is slowly pulling

away from the station,

an agreement of nations

signed and ratified,

a journey of transformation

to be delivered

after decades of labor.

Carbon cut strategies on board,

sun and wind power

sing as we pick up speed.

Steady-minded scientists

keep watch,

measuring with courageous eyes—

atmospheric levels,


ice melt, ocean levels—

they see dangers ahead,

bear bad news and

shoulder the weight of

ridicule from those who would

call it all a hoax—

If only it was—

The time for gentle whispers

is over,

We are all needed to drive this train,

to repel hijackers,

those who would impede progress

as we glide

on a solar-powered track,


‘Yes we can…before it’s too late.’

©2017 Ontheland

My poem is inspired by Bill McKibben’s  January 18 article: “It’s time to stand up for the climate and for civilization” published in Wired.  I found it to be a concise  and inspiring read about humanity’s challenges in the face of climate change and a new United States government that threatens to impede constructive efforts.   Here is one of my favorite passages:

The Paris accord was a triumph.., not because it solved the problem (it didn’t, not even close) but because it existed at all. Somehow 195 nations—rich and poor, those with oil beneath their sand and those that have to import it—managed to agree that we should limit the rise in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius this century and set up an intricate architecture to at least begin the process. That too is an aspect of what we call civilization.

None of this should be taken for granted. The building blocks of our common home—science and diplomacy and also civility—are hard-won, and history would indicate that they can fade fast. In fact, we now seem likely to start tossing them away based on nothing but the politically useful whim that climate change is a hoax.

Bill McKibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and founder of global grassroots climate campaign


We protect World Peace by supporting Climate Action


Climate action and peace.jpg

We attribute ancient hatreds, religious intolerance or simply greed to many of the current conflicts. However, from desertification to eroding shores, climate change has intensified resource scarcity, poverty and hunger. Vast new waves of migration may have a political ignition, but the fuel is climate change, from Africa to Asia. Somehow, even Syria’s conflict can be attributed to the spark of longer-term drought. No continent has been secure, including the more developed ones.

Muhamed Sacirbey

Often war and terror are seen as greater global threats than climate change.  This view does not recognize that environmental stress fuels violent conflict. How?  Global warming creates stressors such as drought, famine, insect infestations, destruction of food supplies and destruction of shelter (think floods, fire, hurricanes).  Such disasters lead to mass migrations.  As Muhamed Sacirbey notes in the above quote, hunger and dislocation are sparks that ignite conflict.

Hunger—conflict—depletion of arable land—conflict—water shortages—conflict—failed crops—conflict—homes destroyed by natural disasters—migration—friction between migrants and natives—conflict—military zones—persecution—migration—conflict.  Food, water, arable land, and places to live are essentials that people fight  for in times of scarcity.

A United Nations Global Trends Report released in June 2016 states that worldwide forced displacement has reached an all-time high: in 2015, one in every 113 humans (65.3 million people) were displaced from their homes due to violence and persecution.

Addressing climate change by reducing carbon emissions promotes World Peace.

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Thank you for reading my Sunday quote post, number 2 in a series of three for a Three Day Quote Challenge. I would like to thank Louise Farrell of Fantasy Raconteur for inviting me.  I love this challenge as it gives me a nudge to do a kind of post that I enjoy.

As  part of the challenge tradition I invite three other bloggers to join in if it strikes their fancy.  Before I list the nominees for this week, I would like to talk about using quotes in posts.  When I first started blogging I was mystified by references to quote challenges until I discovered what it was all about from reading blog posts,  particularly those linked to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge, hosted by Colleen Chesebro and Ronovan Hester.  There are many approaches to using quotes in posts, for example:

  • posting a quote and letting it speak for itself
  • posting a quote and expanding on its meaning or significance, sometimes with information about the author
  • posting a quote to supplement photography (some people come up with amazing combinations)
  • an introductory, tone-setting quote
  • a closing quote
  • using a quote as inspiration for poetry or prose
  • using a quote to enrich the body of a post
  • using your own words as a quote!

If you have a secret desire to try a 3-quote challenge, let me know and I will  nominate you next week. For today I have chosen three nominees who I ask to not feel in any way obliged to follow through—not all bloggers enjoy this type of challenge.  My nominees today are:

Eli Woodbine 

Magarisa of  Becoming Unstuck

Yazek of Successia

The ‘Rules’ or suggested guidelines are:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you.
  2. Post 1-3 quotes each day for 3 consecutive days.
  3. Nominate 3 bloggers each day to participate in the 3-day Quote Challenge.
  4. Have fun.

Expanding ethics to preserve all life

Thomas Berry ethics.jpg

Source: Azquote

Here is a similar message in a paper Thomas Berry delivered to the Harvard Seminar on Environmental Values on April 9, 1996:

The natural world surrounding us is simply the context in which human affairs take place. Our relations with this more encompassing community are completely different from our relations to the human world. In the presence of the human, the natural world has no rights. We have a moral sense of suicide, homicide, and genocide, but no moral sense of biocide or geocide, the killing of the life systems themselves and even the killing of the Earth.

It may not be that our ethical systems are lacking–I was brought up in the Christian tradition and can remember a hymn honoring ‘all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.’  Most spiritual traditions respect the natural word.  The problem is a lack of application—in laws, everyday lives, industry, and commerce.  Pressures of survival, materialism, consumerism and greed have been major forces propelling us to where we are today .

Thomas Berry, a Christian theologian whose life spanned the last century into this one (1914-2009) pointed out a major discrepancy in our sense of morality.  There is a general consensus that killing humans is wrong, but there has not been general agreement that humans shouldn’t destroy animal communities or pollute the air, soil, and waterways.  He refers to the missing crimes as “Biocide” (destruction of life) and “Geocide” (destruction of the earth).

One could argue that we haven’t been that successful in protecting human life either.  Even though direct killing is sanctioned, there are major loopholes for tolerating harm:  lives are shortened significantly in a society that tolerates high levels of poverty, homelessness, toxins in the air we breathe, water we drink, and food we eat.

Putting aside the “we don’t practice what we preach anyway” argument—the observation that as a society we don’t truly love our neighbours, much less the environment—I do agree with Thomas Berry’s implication that the melting of ice caps, dying off of whole species of animals, flooding of coastal communities, famine due to drought etc, are direct results of our industrial consumer lifestyle.  It may take a major revamp of society’s ethics in order to correct our errors and move forward.

Thomas Berry concluded his talk with these hopeful words:

 Perhaps a new revelatory experience is taking place, an experience wherein human consciousness awakens to the grandeur and sacred quality of the earth process. Humanity has not participated in such a vision since shamanic times, but in such a renewal lies our hope for the future for ourselves and for the entire planet.


This is day one in a Three Day Quote Challenge that I will be posting on three consecutive Sundays. I would like to thank Louise Farrell of Fantasy Raconteur for inviting me to participate back in early June when life was extremely busy. It still is, but I’ve taken the time to accumulate a connected series of quotes that I would like to post.  I like this quote challenge as it gives me a nudge to put together a type of post that I enjoy. As  part of the tradition I invite three other bloggers to join in if it strikes their fancy:

Jenny Spencer of SpoonGood

Dorna  Hainds of Madasahatter572

Brianne Turczynski of  Miss Sissinghurst

The ‘Rules’ or suggested guidelines are:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you.
  2. Post 1-3 quotes each day for 3 consecutive days.
  3. Nominate 3 bloggers each day to participate in the 3-day Quote Challenge.

Apple pie dreams

Road train (Public domain on


rise from dust, return to dust

dreaming apple pie

While life goals of survival, love, and accomplishment continue from generation to generation, the world is changing rapidly. In this century global manufacturing, industrial agriculture, shipping, and trucking of goods have increased steadily. Despite our need to cut back on burning fossil fuels,  global free trade markets keep expanding.  Rapid unregulated growth is not necessarily a good thing–nor is too much apple pie.

Naomi Klein’s 2014 book, This Changes Everythingnames trends that impede our efforts to reduce carbon emissions:

The twin signatures of this era [this century] have been the mass export of products across vast distances (relentlessly burning carbon all the way), and the import of a uniquely wasteful model of production, consumption, and agriculture to every corner of the world… (p 77 eBook)

∼ ∼ ∼

The errors of this period cannot be undone, but it is not too late…Encouraging the frenetic and indiscriminate consumption of essentially disposable products can no longer be the system’s goal.  Goods must once again be made to last, and the use of energy-intensive long-haul transport will need to be rationed—reserved for those cases where goods cannot be produced locally or where local production is more carbon-intensive. (p278-279 eBook)

For many people economic growth is like a favorite pie. It calls forth an immediate ‘Yes please’.  On the surface, ‘growth’ sounds right, a sound course, a sound goal. However there is always a saturation point when we have too much of a good thing–whether it’s apple pie or growth.  We need to slow down and find ways to live happy lives more sustainably.  We need to maintain a ‘good enough’ prosperity shared by everyone while cutting back on pollution.  Much easier said than done, but worth the effort during our lifetimes and for those to follow.

My haiku uses the prompt words ‘pie’ and ‘dust’ for Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge.

©2016, all rights reserved by

River on fire

Australia river methane fire
Photo credit: Condamine River in flames. Jeremy Buckingham via Facebook

A politician from New South Wales,

launched a boat-trip chasing bubble trails,

In the blink of an eye,

Set the river on fire,

Methane blazed a melting gunwhale.


Story version 2

A Green party chap from Down Under,

Took a boat trip to view fracking blunders,

Lighted a river on fire,

raised his camera eye higher,

His boat melted in the methane wonder.


They say it’s mere coincidence

Fracking fissures not the cause

Fire on water

A normal event,

Methane burns hot under natural laws.

This story broke several days ago: it’s about an Australian politician who demonstrated that the Condamine River is bubbling methane. I  believe, as he does, that methane bubbles are  escaping from seams opened up by nearby fracking. A Guardian article lays out the controversy. To  find out more about the side effects of fracking for natural gas you might be interested in this David Suzuki Foundation article.

Below is a video posted by Jeremy Buckingham, the politician who set the Condamine River on fire with a barbecue lighter.

In the two story limericks I have used The Secretkeeper Writing Prompt #34 words: Trip; Fire; River; Eye; Melt. Please note that the detail about the boat melting was inspired by the prompt rather than reported fact.

©All rights reserved by


World Water Day 2016


Rain shower’s caress

Shimmering play of droplets,

Taken for granted.

Water is a precious commodity used in all aspects of life.  The making of everything we touch involves the use of water somewhere along the way.  I live in a part of the world where we often take rainfall and clean water for granted.   World Water Day is an annual opportunity to consider the importance of water; and to remember that across the world many people live in drought conditions or without clean water nearby.  Approximately 10% of the world’s population lives without access to clean water for drinking and washing.  Only about one-half of the world has tap water at home.

Every year the United Nation’s World Water Day has a special theme–this year it is water and jobs, highlighting how the livelihood of millions of workers depends on a reliable water supply.   For me, the underlying message is constant: our globe’s clean water is a valuable resource to be conserved and protected.

Collecting water at a public well in Nepal
Collecting water in Africa (unknown location)

©2016, All rights reserved by

The introductory haiku was written in response to Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Challenge #89 using the prompt words: ‘shower’ and ‘play’.

1000 miles out at sea

1.5gyres-plastic-gyre (2)

Computer model of the global distribution of plastic in the ocean (


1000 miles out from the West coast

shining bright caught on an ocean

gyre twirls plastic trash as birds

watch hypnotic wave spin

fish leap from cool depths—

nothing prevents

their hungry



4.5Gyres-microplastics-in-fish (2)Plastic bitten by fish in the North Atlantic ocean during the 5 Gyres SEAChange Expedit

There are five major circulatory ocean currents called ‘gyres’. My poem refers to the North Pacific Gyre west of California.   In the center of these massive rotating pools, plastic, netting, and other ocean trash gravitates. It’s a human mess that we don’t see.  When we discard plastic we assume that it will be recycled or at worst, end up in landfill.  Apparently only 10% of discarded plastic is recycled– 50% goes to landfill and the rest washes out to sea and litters beaches.  I thought twice about showing the picture of the dead fish, but why hide what is happening.  My sources are 5Gyres, a non-profit organization fighting ocean plastic pollution and Environmental Cleanup Coalition.

My nonet includes the five  Secret Keeper Writing Prompt #28 words: Wave, Cool, Prevent, Watch, Bright.

©2016, All rights reserved by