Day 58 – Botanical Diversity

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Grounding. Solace.

Alone again, after a great weeklong visit with my brother, I felt pulled to take a walk among plant life. I needed their help to remember how to feel rooted on this Earth. I needed their help to remember the diversity of life. I needed their help to remember that life can happen in dry, desolate, and harsh conditions.

Welcome to Koko Crater Botanical Gardens.

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In this 100,000-year-old crater or tuff cone – created from an ash eruption, a consequence of cold seawater entering the hot Koolau volcanic vent – a botanical garden was created to feature plants from arid areas of the world. Le’ahi (Diamond Head) is another tuff cone or, as my brother and I decided to call tuff cones, volcanic farts (you heard it here first!).

East Oahu – or any Lee or Kona side of an island – the climate is hot and dry. This made Koko Crater a perfect setting for this type of garden.

Although I am a card-carrying biologist, I think any curiously observant human who paused at the absurdity of life in places where water may come every several years, would be in awe at seeing the diversity of plants.

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Diversity in size, shape, color, texture, mechanisms to collect water, flower, fruit, reproduce…  The list is long.

They are all different species, different genus, and different families – and that is just looking at the plants from hot, arid climates. These plants over millions of years have figured out how to take root and survive. But why?

To give us humans something to ponder? Or is it something greater?

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Can it be the will to survive, that encompasses the ability to adapt and thrive no matter how difficult an environment may be or become?

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It is how we got to where we are – and it will be the reason for where we will go…

Sometimes it takes a walk in a garden to remind us of this…

Aloha!

Day 3 – Monofilament

A predawn walk along the beach is a great way to start the day.

I always like to look for treasures washed ashore at the high tide line. Typically, I’m looking for critters like sand dollars (which I found a few weeks ago on a beach walk with my niece at Ocean beach in San Francisco ).

What caught my eye along the beach at Kailua bay wasn’t biological, like coconut shells or seaweed. It was marine debris.

Garbage…


Yes, it is a fact that we humans produce a lot of garbage and some of it ends up in our environment. 

Yes, it is overwhelming to see the big pieces and all of the little pieces. 

I knew I couldn’t pick up all of the debris, but I had to do something.

 

I decided to pick up monofilament (the ball of green-blue plastic thread in the picture).

Read a bit about it on Wikipedia

I’m not going to solve the ocean trash problem alone, but I can help. Every bit counts.


Oh, I did find a critter – pufferfish (been dead for a while).

Be the change you desire…

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Lately I have been reminded about my limited time on this planet.

The reminders have been blatant, smack you in the face, kind of events. A friend committing suicide, another friend dying from colon cancer and my mother’s journey to rid her body of cancer.

My heart aches and my mind reels into motion, what can I do differently?

Questions abound…

Am I doing enough?

Am I serving my purpose?

Am I eating right?

Do I have cancer?

I had my annual mammogram, and now I am scheduled for my first colonoscopy. That was the easy part.

The hard part is reconciling my accomplishments, reconciling where my life is currently and looking at the map of my life and figuring out if I need to take a different route to get to where I need to go in the future.

My heart aches and my mind reels…  I do not want their deaths and their struggles to be lost – there is a lesson in there for me to learn from… I peer into my soul and see that I can do more…

I can help others!

I can teach others!

I can share with others my humanity! We all hurt, we all struggle, but it is through this strife that we can emerge anew.

I have learned that death is not an end, it is the beginning of something new, change is not bad, it is good – Really good.

Take some time and peer into your soul – sit quietly in a park, under a tree or by the water. Where do you want to go? Who do you know you can be? See your potential.

Now go on and be the change you desire.

Use your finger!

I was reminded about one of my pet peeves the other day while walking down the alley behind my house. As I approached the bottom of the hill, there was this curious piece of trash laying near a storm drain. It was bright baby blue, torpedo shaped, with a curious perforation at the tip, then it struck me, it was a tampon applicator. I felt the annoyance that began 20 plus years ago begin to resurface. I recalled a news story about sewage outfall that happened in Los Angeles or was it Long Island and the beaches were covered with syringes and tampon applicators. I remember hearing the disgust in people’s voices when they spoke about it, but here we are 20 years later and women are still using them. Women are not just using these little pieces of plastic, they are flushing them down the toilet, for them to end up in our waterways or on our beaches and leaving them on hiking trails in the woods.

I was awestruck when I did a google search on the term “plastic tampon applicator environment” and the results brought back not only information about how they are part of the plastic waste found in our ocean, but  discussion threads with questions/discussions asking if plastic tampon applicators could be flushed or recycled, whether plastic was better than cardboard. A little more searching and I found the blog post from The Chic Ecologist that gives a scientific essay of information, quoting the life cycle of a tampon based on an analysis by some smart folks in Stockholm, that basically says the worst part of a tampon applicator is that it is PLASTIC.  Do we really have to have PhDs to figure this out folks?

Plastics in our environment is a very serious thing, of course climate change is even more serious, but the great thing about this problem is that WE humans can do something about it. We can choose not to buy tampons with plastic applicators, one seemingly small step for the environment, but think about the cumulative effects if you and your friends do it, then their friends and so on and so on. How powerful will it be when by your one simple action may force playtex or kotex to never make tampons with plastic applicators again?

What about your health?

I just found a post about moldy tampons found in, you guessed it a plastic applicator. There is little evidence that says tampons are unhealthy, they are safe to use unless you leave one in for longer than the prescribed time (don’t leave it in for a day okay) and truthfully there are more important questions for your health you should be asking, like should I begin an exercise routine (the answer is yes).

But you don’t want to touch yourself or get blood over your hands?

Get over it. You are a beautiful female human, embrace that, love that and live with that. A woman’s menstrual cycle is a miraculously beautiful thing that should be celebrated not cursed. It leads to making those cute little baby humans, who are our future. They will also be the ones who will be picking up and figuring out how to deal with our plastic trash for generations to come.

I have used tampons without an applicator for well over 20 years. I started in high school, it was the 80s and they were just coming out. I hated applicators, they would poke, slip and I usually ended up using my finger to get the ill formed piece of cotton up my vagina. I knew back then that plastic was bad for the environment so plastic applicators were never an option for me. It was a revolution when the small little tampons that had a place for my fingertip came out. My finger expertly guided this little plug into place, no poking, no slipping and there it stayed until I returned to the bathroom.  I felt emancipated as a woman, in control of how my  tampon was placed. You too can be emancipated from applicators, cardboard or plastic, just use your finger.