How green was our planet? How blue was our water? How fresh was our air? How nourishing was our bounty?
I’m 84, and as a child such questions never came up. We grew alfalfa in the fields, harvested it and fed it to the horses. We built new mown stacks and slept in them on mellow summer nights. It was crunchy on our backs as we watched the moon transverse a velvet sky. It was pleasant to our noses — all our senses — when we turned on our tummies. We never wondered why it was green.
Asparagus was green and deliciously edible. So was lettuce and the tops of carrots and the leaves that covered the tuberous potato. The ripe tubers popped up brown when we pulled them out of the loamy earth. We cut out their eyes to plant them again.
Mashed potatoes were my favorite, but mother often made a thick carrot, potato and chicken soup that warmed the tummy on cold winter nights. We fed scraps to the dogs and they, too, flourished.
Apples were green. They turned red. We picked and ate them straight from the tree, baked in a pie or spooned up in a bowl of applesauce. We never, ever, questioned their value as a food.
Today there are kids who think applesauce grows in a can and apple pies miraculously appear in plastic covered tins on a supermarket shelf. There are kids who’ve never seen an apple tree. Further, we must question if that apple is sick with the toxins we sprayed upon “their hungry mouths that prest against the earth’s sweet flowing breast.”
Water? It was clear as it gurgled from a faucet. We turned on a hose and clean, fresh water gushed out. We drank it. Bathed in it. Washed our clothes in it. We’re running out of water.
Our oceans are garbage dumps. The fish are dying.
Many rivers no longer flow to the sea. The Jordan. The Colorado. Aquifers are drying up. The Southwest United States is fast becoming a desert. Man, and green living things on this planet, cannot live without water.
Green living things create fresh air. Grass and trees are the best photosynthesizers. Clean up that nasty CO2. First came the grass, then came the trees, and then came all living things on Earth. Our planet. Our home.
I was born in the Depression. Way too many of us were desperately poor. But few of us had to worry about breathing fresh air, drinking clean water or eating a healthy, wholesome apple when we found one.
Today, we have people on this planet who have billions of that long, green stuff we call money, and they will plunder the planet dry. Can we teach them when the last tree is cut, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, that we cannot eat that kind of green?
Or will we become the richest planet in the graveyard?
Bettejo Dux is a Kalaheo resident and author of “The Scam: A madcap romp through North Shore Kauai.”