Earth Day Service, Green Sanctuary


Oh, I wish I was a little mosquito, mosquito

Oh, I wish I was a little mosquito, mosquito

I’d go bitey bitey, bitey under everybody’s nightie!

Oh, I wish I was a little mosquito, mosquito

Yes, this is one of my earliest memories connected to mosquitoes. A picture of contentment with Girl Scout friends, singing around the campfire, our fingers and mouths sticky from roasted marshmallows and some mores.

Another memory involves weekends at my grandparents. During the day, my sister, and I would get to ride the tractor , collect eggs from the chickens and run around with Cindy, the dog. Evening brings a routine. Our teeth are brushed, pajamas are on and grandma’s dentures are in a cup. We are abed. This is when grandpa emerges from the twilight. Armed with a trusty fly swatter, he scoured the house room by room and put an end to any flying nuisance that might disturb our sleep. Grandpa Meldrum was the embodiment of dedication and constancy and had the title of master bug annihilator.

Well, like you all my mosquito memories are not pleasant ones. Fast forward a few decades, and a party of four disembarks from afloat plane at Bettles, Alaska. We are headed for a 15 day float trip down the Noatak River to the Chukchi Sea. This is the land of the midnight sun in early August. The constant welcoming party once off the river to take a break or pitch camp – mosquitoes. Not just a couple or now and then. There are 15 to 20 always buzzing around our heads. The possibilities are few – a head net, bug repellent to be sure. But other than that, it is time for peaceful co-existence in the interdependent web of life. This is the mosquitoes’ home. And if this is going to be a problem - I am in the wrong place! Here is the greatest wilderness expanse I have visited. Millions of acres of tundra lie in every direction. The top layer of permafrost has thawed to provide tussocks and tiny pools just right for mosquito larvae. I am spending two weeks in a huge mosquito nursery!!

No wonder so many birds wing their way north to breed. Any tiny bird will find itself surrounded by a flying smorgasbord. The web of life again.

So, I surrender to the glorious elements of Alaska and its nuisances.

What can I learn from the mighty mosquito? Persistence. Their persistent buzzing gives us the will to act – get out the bug spray or move indoors!

What group do I want to act? How about the US legislature? How can I move them to act? How can I tell them the environment is sacred to me, that we need to live sustainably?

I can be persistent, like the mosquito, communicating with congress by mail, phone, computer and in person. Always courteous and with thanks for their service, yet, letting them know what is important to me. I voted for these people but how would they know what policy I value? I would no sooner hire a painter and just say “ok, go paint”. Why do I vote for a politician and so rarely communicate with her/him? It is the citizens who provide political will for congress to act – we are part of the government web of existence, web of action or in-action. I am not a Pollyanna to think I can do this on my own. Many citizens need to push for members of Congress to act. This has happened before.

Well today presents an opportunity, just like any day. After service in the social hall and at lunch – a form letter is waiting for you to delete or add any environmental need and to state your preferred policy. It is up to you to push for action or state that climate change is a hoax. There are envelopes, stamps, addresses. You can take these home or leave your sealed letter with the Green Sanctuary committee to mail.

Like the mosquito, I am determined to be persistent, with other citizens to have a healthy planet. Won’t you join me?

And may you find no mosquitoes under your nightie!

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