Promoting Environmental Stewardship in Our Writing
by Dari LaRoche
April 28, 2022
The Earth Day theme this year is “Invest in Our Planet.”
Earth Day is observed throughout the month of April, not just on the one day, which is April 22 this year. Most all communities have multiple organized activities, school programs, and events to raise environmental awareness.
What can we do in our daily lives to help the planet?
If you go to the tips page for Earth Day this year and look through the blocks of 52 Ways to Invest in our Planet. You may find it interesting to see how many things you already do in your daily or work life. I did and I was surprised. Not that I was patting myself on the back—I wasn’t—but still, I was pleased with my tally.
In my normal life, I lean toward less meat and more plant-based eating. Out of habit, I pick up trash when I walk, though I need to walk more. I love reusable bags. I save paper with mostly online billing. My home pest control service uses only natural products. I buy organic and local when possible. Last year, I had my yard maintenance company leave all the maple leaves in my garden instead of blowing them out and hauling them away. They have degraded over the winter and I am having new topsoil added this spring so they create an additional nourishing compost layer for my garden. Should I do more? Absolutely.
What about you? I challenge you to look for one or two more things that you can focus on this year to help our planet. One of my choices is to take pictures of pollinators, which I am going to post on my Instagram and Facebook pages. That will be something fun to do and our bees and butterflies need the publicity. Actually, let’s be totally truthful. If we plant more nectar and host plants in our gardens and use safer pesticides, more pollinators will survive. That will in turn help preserve our ability to maintain a more sustainable food source in the future. Check out the North American Butterfly Association.
My back yard brings me joy. It is large and on a hillside. I have a pond with a cascading waterfall that provides a water source for birds, butterflies, and critters like deer and rabbits. My mother always said, “If you provide water, they will come.” So that is what I do. Along with sunflower seeds, plants that have berries in the winter, and nesting boxes. I am thinking of getting a wildlife cam sometime. I have only seen a coyote walking my fence line one time in the past five years, but I am sure my garden has many visitors I have never seen.
So, do I walk the walk of protecting the environment in my writing?
I certainly try. My characters are very aware of our planet. The protagonists in my first two books, one published (A Sailor’s Perfect Christmas ) and one in the throes of editing, are divers, sailors, and hikers. They live in the Pacific Northwest in Seattle, just north of where I live. The book I am working on at present takes place in both Seattle and on the island of St. Eustatius in the Caribbean.
I’m a diver and have dove both in Puget Sound in cold water and the enticingly warm bathtub waters of St. Eustatius, known as Statia, in the Caribbean. I’ve spent a lot of time photographing the underwater world over the years and, while not professional in any way, the pictures I do have are important to me. In addition to the very few in-focus good ones (fish dart away, after all), I have lots of pics of tail fins. I keep them anyway. Crazy, right? But the memories of diving and good times that they evoke shows up in my writing.
My two characters in Books One and Two, Alex and Taylor, hike in the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula, as well as the North Creek Forest near Seattle, and the rainforest inside the volcano crater in Statia. My third book in this series is resting while I finish the present project. That book involves a rescue non-profit for horses that have suffered abuse. I plan to move into the editing process for it this summer.
Writing and nature bring me joy.
Enjoy our natural world in whatever way you can.
I am a great proponent of “Pack it in/Pack it out” when exploring our natural world. I first learned to leave nothing behind when going on river rafting trips run by friends in Idaho. We never left anything at our campsites. I can’t begin to count how many discarded water bottles and other destructive plastics that harm birds, waterfowl, and turtles I have picked up over the years. It continues to amaze me what people discard along the roadways.
When we are quiet and spend time in nature, our souls are nourished and rejuvenated. Forest bathing is a good way to do that. My sister and I make a point of finding opportunities to do it whenever we can. The Monterey coast around Carmel is a wonderful place for walking, as is Cannon Beach in Oregon. The North Creek Forest that I mentioned above has a one-hour guided forest bathing walk. No conversation. Experience it at your own pace. If you want to spend five minutes or more in one spot just taking it all in, do so. The lavender fields at the base of Mount Hood in Oregon are an exceptional place to wander. Notice all the bees buzzing back and forth from flower to flower as you appreciate the beauty and scent of blooming clumps of purple and white lavender. All this with the spectacular mountain in the background.
If you open your eyes and look with intention, you will find places of inspiration in which to meditate and fill your creative well with ideas you can use in your life and writing. I certainly do. Quiet observing brings peace and harmony.
Find somewhere to volunteer.
I encourage everyone to do what you can with either time or money or both to help our planet not only survive but thrive as well. In today’s times, many of the non-profits are not getting the donations they used to receive before COVID.
Three of my favorites are the Nature Conservancy in Washington State, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Washington Trails Association. Pick something you can get behind and mention from time to time on your social media. Exposure creates awareness. Most of us want to be part of the solution, rather than an ongoing creator of problems. Choose something important to you and make up your mind to help.
Winter hangs on, while Spring pushes in.
Winter’s departure here in the Pacific Northwest can be fickle. Spring is trying its best to push its way in as I write this. Two weeks ago, my cherry tree was in bloom. Last week the red and pink maples started leafing out. Robins are all over and the black and blue stellar jays are here. The Anna’s Hummingbirds winter over where I live, so I feed them in the winter too. I don’t see much of them in the dead of winter when they slow their metabolism down, but I still put out the feeders and change and clean them regularly.
This week, we got over eight inches of snow and today a mix of hail and snow. It has mostly melted now but I lost large branches off my pine trees due to the heavy wet snow. Still daffodils push up and, as the snow melts, the hyacinths heralding spring are once again visible in the yards I pass by on my walks.
I love to share the joys of nature with my readers. It is an underlying theme in my stories even when I don’t plan it that way. I am not one to participate in organized events for the climate and our planet, though I am passionate about it. But I always try to do my part in as many facets of my life as I can.
Be still. Watch and experience the joy of new life surrounding you in the spring. Flowers and birdsong and life renewed. Last year I had a nest of baby bunnies in a big pot of flowers on my back patio. How cool is that? I can’t wait to see what wonders I will experience this year.
What are you looking forward to as spring rounds the corner? I need some more color in my garden this year. Guess it’s about time to head to my favorite nursery. Perhaps I will see you there too.
Dari LaRoche writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense that will keep you reading long after the witching hour has passed. Her everyday heroes face challenges requiring strength of character, perseverance, and an ever ready dose of laughter to find their way to love and happiness. Her Rescue Series takes place in the Pacific Northwest and the Caribbean, settings inspired by LaRoche’s love for travel and passion for safeguarding the natural environment.