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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

I'm Dreaming of a Green Garden

by Laurel Kallenbach

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It’s December 10, time for me to start decorating for the holidays, and I find myself flipping through the November/December issue—specifically the article “Dreaming of a Greener Holiday”—which is packed with information about Christmas tree choices, energy-efficient LED colored lights and paper-saving wrapping.

It may strike you as odd that I should need to refer to the very articles I read 10 to 15 times before they were sent to the printer. Short-term memory loss? Well, not exactly.

The real problem is that magazine editors suffer from Seasonal Displacement Disorder (SDD)—we’re always working four to six months ahead. The Natural Home staff was preparing articles about low-emissions fireplace inserts, natural-wool comforters and baking healthy cookies in August. While writing photo captions for snowy December house scenes, I was bent over my laptop wearing shorts and a tank-top in front of the swamp cooler.

As I write this blog, I’m up to my eyeballs in gardening articles.

Ten days before Winter Solstice, I’m in full Spring Equinox mode: checking this or that detail about organic mulch, Earth Day and heat- and drought-tolerant flowers. In January, I’ll start cooking up summer picnics and writing tips for reducing chlorine in the swimming pool.

SDD is not life-threatening; in fact, seasonal disorientation can actually be fun. When it’s 12 degrees outside, it’s a fantasy for me to edit a recipe for fresh-baked strawberry-rhubarb pie. And my toes dance inside two layers of wool socks as I write “37 Ways To Use Organic Zucchini from Your Garden”—a delight I’m sure would not be so sweet in the actual month of July.

Another symptom of editorial SDD is preternatural prophesy. For instance, while strolling the Denver Botanic Gardens’ “Blossoms of Light” display last week, I noticed that most of the twinkling colors were from energy-saving LED bulbs—I recognized them from our magazine pages. And I knowingly informed my friends that LEDs are 90 percent more electricity-efficient than incandescent bulbs. (Hope I didn’t sound like too much of an eco-nerd!)

Back to the real reason I was rechecking our Green Holiday article: A friend just sent an e-mail sharing her Christmas tree shopping discovery. She asked the nursery employees the origin of each tree she was considering buying. The Frasers were from North Carolina; the spruces from Oregon. In the end, she selected a white fir from Colorado because less fossil fuel was required to ship it—and it was fresher.

I wanted to check something else mentioned in our holiday piece: organically grown Christmas trees. They’re an excellent idea for reducing pesticide use at tree farms. Unfortunately for us Westerners, many of those organic farms are in the East. If there’s not an organic tree nursery around, it makes more sense to cut our own or buy a tree grown nearby—even if it’s not pesticide-free.

Another great option is to get a living tree and plant it in spring—perhaps on Earth Day. (More seasonal dislocation!)

Like magazine editors, people who are in touch with nature’s cycles are always thinking ahead to the next season. So here’s to this winter…and spring…and summer….