As I contemplate the big bird before me, I bless this creature that has given its life so that we may savor our Thanksgiving traditions and nourish our bodies. Though I am “mostly-vegetarian,” I’ll be enjoying this bird with my family. My objections to meat lie in the way animals are raised in modern times, in environmentally- and ethically-awful facilities I cannot name but rhyme with Bactory Barms. This particular bird, however, never knew the cramped quarters of most commercial facilities. He roamed the Ferndale Family farm in fresh air and sunshine, and moved along to enjoy a fresh new…

Pathway of Stones

This morning, I swept the paving stones, the ones that lead from our driveway to the front door to the garden and on to the street. Please. Hold your applause.

It might not sound like much. Even though there are 130 of them. And maybe more, yet buried under the weight of windblown dirt, leaves, and needles. Who knows? I can’t recall the last time anyone swept them.

In any case, the stones are small, and the great deed occupied only twenty minutes of my day. But it meant all the world to me. It reminded me that there’s something…

“Mom, where are you?”

“I don’t know! But I was lost the last time I was here.”

My feisty mom, who moved from the Midwest to Los Angeles at the age of 62, always had to be on the go. LA’s infamous traffic, plus the confusing, hilly terrain in our neck of LA, daunts many newcomers. But my Mom refused to be cowed. That was pretty much her motto. If she wanted to do something, she refused to be cowed.

Long before Google Maps, she’d take off in her car for parts unknown, then call me asking for directions home…

Tribute to Coyote.

A moment of silence, please. A character from the stories of my book, Love Earth Now, has passed.

Thank you.

A neighborhood coyote stared at me as I got out of my car one morning three years ago. I’d dropped the kids at school, returned home and was walking toward the front door when I saw him. Coyote stood at the bottom of the steep driveway across from mine, one that led up to his den somewhere on the hill above us. His piercing gaze seemed to dare me. To do what? I had no idea, but I couldn’t dally…

It happened in a coal plant in Tennessee, of all places, a place I’d never imagined being, back when I was a budding environmentalist. But that one summer job broadened the perspective of the sheltered suburbanite I was then, in ways that I am just now beginning to appreciate. After my sophomore year in college, I hopped on a plane, by myself for the first time, bound for a city I’d never seen, in a part of the country I knew nothing about, to live with people I’d never before met, in a high-rise building infested with cockroaches-just steps from…

“Hi, this is Chad from Chaco shoes. I’m calling about the sandals you sent in for repair?”
“Oh, yes, thanks, hi, Chad.”
“Yeah, we determined that it was a manufacturing defect that caused the sandal to crack….”
“Oh, that’s great news, Chad! I love those shoes so much!”
“So I just emailed a coupon to you to order a new pair.”

Two simultaneous thoughts arrived:

  1. I’m not getting my old Chaco sandals back! I’d been counting the days until their return. . .but, doh! How did I not realize that split sandal was too badly damaged to be repaired? Oh…

Navigating an Altered Landscape.

View of a pond with ducks and turtles

The view from my writing desk today was one of my favorites. Computer in my lap, I sat cross-legged, resting against a gnarled oak tree. Its twisted branches jutted out over my head, shielding me like a brave warrior from the violence of today’s searing sun. Lazy turtles sunned on the lower-lying branches that grazed the water. Red dragonflies flitted around me, while drowsy ducks dozed, their beaks tucked under a wing. I sat, resting, writing, noodling in the heart of the city and in the middle of nowhere, all at once.

When it came time…

Cheryl Leutjen

Teetering on a tightrope between more conscientious living and eco-madness, I write about responding to the challenges of our time with heart, hope, and humor.

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