Rocks, Dirt and Nature Preserves

I no longer watch TV, thanks to Donald Trump. I don’t need the anger, the bitterness or the noise.

Instead, I need the simple things in life, like brilliant sunrises, bird song, and seasoned barnwood.

I live on a nature preserve just outside of Athens County. I work about 30 hours a week, and then play outside, just like the old days. There are 100 acres on the property, and I live in a century-old farmhouse.

Every morning and night, I hear the birds and critters sing till it is time for rest. My kitchen overlooks a pond. I never hear a car go by unless it is company making its way down the long, gravel driveway.

Cleveland is a world away from here. I am so glad to know Ohio’s Hill Country!

Usually I hike near Zaleski, Logan or Hocking Hills. On a typical weekend, I might visit the local craft brewery or talk with growers at the local farmers’ market. I often have fresh daffodils sitting in an old jar by the window. There are tiny plants and wildflowers I’ve never seen before.

If Donald Trump has his way, all of the beauty that surrounds me will continue to be leased to frackers, elitists and money grabbers. Why can’t Ohio emulate what other states are doing? Early settlers loved this land, especially for its fertile soil. Then coal mining – and now fracking – changed the landscape, and folks continue to dismiss the harm being done to this environment.

Something doesn’t sit right with the statehouse, and many of our elected officials have ties to the monopoly utilities. I should feel too busy to care, since I am preparing a garden and just started my seeds indoors. Luke found some scrap wood and helped us build a raised garden bed to go with the plot that was created many years ago.

I am not sure how much I want to experiment with the soil outside the garden plot. There are lots of invasives and I am tempted to try new things, which I researched for Acres Magazine in February. Last fall, I interviewed a scientist and an Amish farmer to see what they thought about using dredge from Lake Erie and gypsum from the coal mines. Can it be used to amend agricultural fields?

I like turning lemons into lemonade.

I am still thinking about coal and fracking, but decided to do something about it. Right now, I have turned my attention to solar and I am working with farmers who are investing in alternative fuels. I continue my work as a grant writer, assisting a nonprofit in Athens and a council of small governments in Athens County.

In March, I had a chance to talk about my experiences as an AmeriCorps VISTA during a social welfare conference in Cleveland. I traveled to my alma mater at Case Western Reserve University to talk about my research From Cleveland Streets to the Coal Mines.

I will do my best to stay up on politics while coal miners in Appalachia wait for Mr. Trump to make good on his promises. My only promise is to continue to live in the present, counting the blessings and blossoms of each and every day.