This pandemic has been beneficial by encouraging me to consider what’s personally meaningful. I know I’m not alone in this opportunity for reflection lately, nor is it my first time doing so. Surviving difficult situations has forced me to shift gears from what I thought to be accurate to new directions. When I thought I was in control, I learned I was not, forcing me to go with the flow. So much of my life had fulfilled essential roles as a parent and employee while thinking, “Was I born for this?” A way for me to answer that question has been to look at the synchronicities in my choices and life events. They have not been without risk; most of them were out of my comfort zone. Thank goodness for those who have shown me alternatives!
A friend in Germany has a small lot similar in size to mine on which she and her husband can grow much of their food to last through the winter. It’s from her example that I decided to landscape with trees and bushes that bear nuts and fruit. I have a couple of raised gardens for vegetables. In lieu of a large lawn, I have perennial areas for pollinator plants and herbs. During the winter, I was delighted to have salad greens and herbs growing in my conservatory. Each year I challenge myself to do better because I thoroughly enjoy what I’ve been producing.
Anticipating a reduced income during my retirement, I had the shingles replaced with steel roofing for increased fire protection, reduced property insurance, and its long-term lifetime. The addition of a conservatory was to have year-round enjoyment among my plants while soaking up passive solar heating in the Winter and mosquito-free nights in the Summer in a room with a view. Since it has honeycomb window shades and access to a heat pump, it has also reduced my energy costs while coordinating with my grid-tied solar energy. I’m able to track my photovoltaic production through a monitoring system which is further validated in part by my local municipal utility bill. As for its performance, my array routinely overproduces my annual demand by 20%, with fluctuations related to the seasonal angle of the Sun and, of course, snow cover, making it a form of “net-zero.” By choice, I also follow Sunshine to optimize my energy efficiency.
Materialistically, this is how I’ve optimized some resources. Most Importantly to me is that I’m trying to leave my piece of our planet better than the way I found it. I do feel good about showing up in this way.