Monday, August 15, 2005

Pushing up crocuses

Arcola is considering seeding some land back to native grasses, on one of the most permanently protected pieces of land imaginable - its cemetery.

Of course, there would be some ongoing soil disturbance.

But think of it - if you went looking for land that's safe from future changes in land use, how could you do better? If this project goes ahead, it has truly long-term potential.

Cemeteries are already recognized as incidental preserves of native prairie. Often the grassland was left as it was, just fenced and mowed, and the plants haven't changed much. In areas of prime farmland, where nearly all the prairie has been broken, a cemetery can be one of the largest areas of native prairie that's left. People who are nostalgic about "prairie wool" sometimes mention that they know it from the place where their ancestors are buried.

Out in the wider world, I hear there is a movement to deliberately use human burial as a way to protect land from human efforts to improve upon it. A friend mentioned "green funerals" a few weeks ago, and just this morning our lawyer asked about funeral directives for our will, and then I saw a news story about green burial and followed the trail to the Center for Ethical Burial. I always thought I'd want a simple funeral, to avoid unnecessary final consumption in my name. I wondered about cremation, but it never occurred to me that I should be sure to get my tooth fillings out first! From the above website:
A recent report by a coalition of New England environmental organizations found that in 2003, "an estimated 2.5 tons of mercury was emitted from crematoria nationwide." To put that in perspective, the Mercury Policy Project says it takes only .002 pounds, or 1/70 of a teaspoon of mercury to contaminate a 25 acre lake to the point where its fish cannot be eaten. And airborne mercury causes most of the mercury pollution that gets into our water...
They say it's a good exercise to write your own eulogy. This got me thinking: how about making your own box or urn (someone used papier-maché) and keeping it handy to look at once in awhile? Or weaving a shroud - now that sounds appealing to me.

If anyone knows about Canadian legal information concerning "green burials," please drop a note in the comments.

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