NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

September 21, 2013

Column: Republicans need to bolster their environmental credentials

Despite my political differences with my son – independent vs. Democrat, Romney vs. “You voted for Obama, AGAIN?!?!” – he and I do connect on some key issues. We are both social libertarians, and were both influenced by the environmentalism of Henry David Thoreau (which is not the same as the “make me a millionaire while I lecture you about global warming” environmentalism of Albert Gore Jr.).

Our family always lived a simple, low-impact life, in which we dried our clothes on a line outside or in the basement, kept the heat low. We recycled with the Boy Scouts and a nearby private-sector recycling business. Now I drag my paper/plastic/glass bins to the curb each week for town pick-up; when I visit my family I’m told these items go into bins in the garage for delivery to a private company.

When they were here last summer I had to ask them not to hand-crush their cans, which I needed uncrushed for the return machines at the store. Nevada doesn’t have a bottle bill.

I think Chip and I got environment points for our adjoining yards, which are simply mowed meadow, surrounded by wild bushes and aging trees, that critters love. Rabbits munch the clover, skunks and wild turkeys dig and peck for bugs, birds eat the berries and seeds, squirrels collect walnuts and smash their hard shells on the picnic table. After their visit here, my family stopped mowing their front yard; they’ve planted squash on one side, and let the other side go wild like ours. The backyard is already vegetable garden and bird feeders, with wild space for the quail family. Only the children’s and dog’s fenced play yard is kept mowed.

I love the way they are raising my grandchildren. Their world doesn’t revolve around television and computers. The garage is filled with bikes, skateboards, skis, kayaks. My grandson runs, my granddaughter dances. The entire family hikes and camps, in the nearby Sierra Nevada, absorbing John Muir’s appreciation of nature.

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