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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
March 20, 2000


The Vernal Equinox symbolically represents a time of balance and renewal. On the Celtic calendar, Ostara is the spring festival dedicated to celebration of the sun, and the fertility of the earth. Predating the Christian "Easter," Ostara was the day to bring wildflowers into the home, and scatter died eggs about the village for children to find. Seen as luck totems, eggs died with herbs, and marked with runes, were serious magic. This was also a day of ritual seed planting, and feasting on seed cakes and leafy green vegetables.

In studying neopagan traditions it's hard not to notice that all holidays are situated around the cycling of the sun. The spring equinox begins the season of regrowth and birth. And early agriculturists actually lived into that possibility, because when the light and darkness balanced once again it was time for harvest, and the die back of fall. Is it any wonder these early cultures lived in balance with the environment around them?

Flash forward 7 hundred years, and we find ourselves? Totally disconnected from the natural cycles of the planet, daily we undermine our global life support system. No longer seeing the natural world as sacred, we seek to alter life in order to improve it, while slowly destroying it. Promoting life no longer includes respecting it, and as a species we are diminished.

Biotechnology has forced the growing season into a faster pace through the use of chemicals and genetic engineering. The eggs we color to mark the spring now come from factory farmed chickens, with the chickens being as chemically dependent as the grain used to feed them. Only in today's world of sport utility vehicles, dying ecosystems, and overpopulation could any of this be seen as balance.

Speaking of SUVs, would everybody stop whining about gas prices. Addictions are expensive, deal with. American gas guzzlers should be happy they don't live in London, British commuters are paying five dollars a gallon. Complaining about the price of gas we completely ignore the ecological cost of fossil fuels and the development associated with it. Isn't it odd that we celebrate oil dependency even as it destroys all sense of environmental balance.

Not only do automobiles pollute the atmosphere to the point of systematic breakdown, they also require an ever expanding network of roads. Even if population is allowed to grow, unless we are willing to destroy what remains of Southern California's biotic integrity, automobile use can not. If the scientists studying the melting polar ice shelf are correct, any action taken won't be too soon. Solar generated Maglev trains zipping up and down the transportation corridors currently occupied by Interstates 5 and 15, and Highways 76, 78, 52, and 56 is a great place to start.

I realize this is a broad vision, and one that is far reaching, expensive, and socially challenging. It is the needed next step. Mobility is not exclusive to the automobile. Instead of looking to one means of mobility to meet all our needs, perhaps we should rediscover some old ones like walking and riding, while update existing ones to be less polluting, and more environmentally sustainable. It couldn't hurt, and it just might help. Here's to spring, I hope it lasts.

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