Change of Scenery

Reflections from a Summer Porch (2016)

I used to travel, both domestically and internationally, quite a bit for my job, and I had the preparation part down to a science. Now that my airline travel is down to two or three times a year, getting ready is more difficult. More than that, by the time it comes to travel, I don’t really want to leave home. I sometimes wish I had not made any plans at all. At the same time, I know that I will be glad once I reach my destination.

We all need a change of scenery once in a while. Driving I-93 South from Logan Airport to Cape Cod was indeed a change of scenery! I had not been in that kind of traffic in a very long time – roads merging from every direction until there was a 6-lane “parking lot”. I have been thinking a lot this summer about environmental issues and now I was face-to-face with the reality of carbon emissions.

For part of the stretch, there was a High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane, with high occupancy defined as two or more people. There were relatively few cars in the HOV lane, so that probably meant that the hundreds of cars on the road had only one person in the car. I have to admit that that included me, as well.

Once I crossed the Sagamore Bridge onto Cape Cod, the scenery changed completely. I used to think that there was “nothing to see” on Route 6, but that day I reveled in every green tree and bush along the highway.

Garden Sculpture (2016)

And now, my “reflections from my lanai” have become reflections from backyard porches. I am blessed to be able to spend time with friends on three different and glorious backyard porches. Despite the lack of rain, trees and bushes are green and flowering plants are in full bloom. Most of the blue hydrangeas, which are iconic at the Cape, are now past peak. (I learned this week that some varieties bloom year round.)

There seems to be greater awareness of environmental issues here than I have noticed at home. My friends still plant their own gardens every year. There is an emphasis on eating what is harvested locally – fruit, vegetables, and seafood. Many people have compost piles in their yards. In several towns, the “dump” is a recycling center that often functions like a swap meet. Water is used sparingly, and some homeowners choose to live with brown spots on the lawns rather than install in-ground watering systems.

Black-Eyed Susans (2016)

It is inspiring to see applications of the ideas my summer readings have emphasized. I want to recommend another book that I just read: Walking God’s Earth by David Cloutier (Liturgical Press, 2014). Theology Professor David Cloutier provides a concise, accessible, and spiritually engaging introduction to the questions of the way in which the Catholic tradition understands the significance of the environment, and the implications of this understanding in our daily lives. He emphasizes the importance of finding our place within God’s created order, showing how spiritual experiences and scriptural narratives guide us to a humble and realistic perspective. The book identifies key areas – food, fuel, dwelling places, work, and leisure – in which we can bring our faith convictions into daily living.

May we all appreciate opportunities to change the scenery or to change our perspective on the familiar scenery that surrounds us every day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s