This morning I am sitting in Springfield, VA, a D.C. suburb, at Dave’s house, and I’ve been thinking about how to live “green,” so to speak, in an environment that is entirely suburban. Here, everyone drives everywhere, or at least it seems that way to me. The landscape seems largely made up of pavement and concrete, and the entire organism of life in this area is based around convenience.

Yet, even here, the green world peeks through. A few days ago, Dave and I took a walk through this little park just down from his house. The park managers have set up barbecue grills and picnic tables so that people can go out and relax under trees and, presumably, escape the heat of a D.C. summer intensified by asphalt. Or I can look out the window where I sit now and see Dave’s huge flowering cherry tree and the dogwood across the lot or look out the back window to see the green, unlandscaped strip between Dave’s townhouse and the ranch houses behind him. It is almost an oasis of trees here, and I take breath in that.

Last night, we weeded and mulched Dave’s yard and worked on “cleaning it up.” Just laying down that pine bark calmed my spirit in the midst of so much movement – the smell of it, the texture of it, the way it crunched beneath my bare feet – all of that natural sensation. As we drove out to get vanilla extract for the buttercream frosting we made for angel food cupcakes, I saw people walking in the evenings – they seemed to be “fitness” walkers, but still, here they were outside in a summer night enjoying something that doesn’t cost them anything but a little time.

I am learning to see how to live my life in this environment where it seems that so much if hidden behind the ever human quest to do more and have more. I am not immune to this quest, but I try to resist; I try to fight this consuming nature. And I do it in small ways – with six bags of mulch and some cupcake frosting made from scratch. Simple things to keep the air fresh in the midst of pavement.