Collecting bottles, tossing leftovers, taking out the garbage
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Stephanie Mills has been active in the ecology movement for more than thirty years, and in 1996 Utne Reader named her as one of the world’s leading visionaries. Her books include In the Service of the Wild (Beacon Press), Whatever Happened to Ecology?, and Turning Away from Technology (both Sierra Club Books). She lives in the Great Lakes bioregion in the upper Midwest.
Details are my delight. In the country, many of the details have minds of their own: lady beetles crowding around, seeking winter hibernacula; knapweed flourishing everywhere; a raccoon and her pudgy kits climbing a cherry tree; a crow japing overhead. All this living, self-willed detail informs me in ways that cities no longer do.
At century’s end, we’re consumers, not gatherers or producers. We’re at the mercy of dimly understood industrial processes and long lines of supply. Being at such removes — practical, geographic, and technological — from our sustenance, most of us are ignorant of the source of our tap water and the provenance of our food.
We swore to do it till death do us part and neither of us crossed our fingers. That, in itself, was rather a miracle. We were hardly speaking at the time. “I will” was a long conversation.
May 1. My vanity was injured because my self-revelation, my skilled dissection of my outsize half of the relationship, didn’t beguile him.