Earth Month: Commitments & Inspiration

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Jana Blankenship, Mountain Laurel

"When nature is a teacher, we cocreate with her."

-Vandana Shiva

We just welcomed new puppies into our home a month ago and I have been up with them and the sunrise every day since. Spending each morning looking at the sun’s first rays illuminating the mountains in front of our house has been magnificent. Sometimes an eagle flies by catching the colors of the sunrise on their wings. 

I get to start each day before any busyness sets in, immersed in wonder at the beauty of this world. When we spend time in nature it makes us feel connected, gives us perspective, and reminds us that we are a part of everything else. My favorite poet Mary Oliver writes about this beautifully in her poem, Poem of One World:


This morning

the beautiful white heron

was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of this

the one world

we all belong to

where everything

sooner or later

is a part of everything else

which thought made me feel

for a little while

quite beautiful myself

-Mary Oliver

This year more than others we are aware of the passing of each day and the arrival of a new season. Slowing down and connecting to the rhythm of nature is not only incredibly grounding but draws us into the web of life. In a time that has been so deeply isolating, stressful and frightening, seeking solace and connection can be a balm for our spirit. Oliver said the words “Attention is the beginning of devotion,” which always summed it up beautifully to me. When we start to pay attention to nature, when we learn the names of plants, when we relish in the details and the feeling of being in nature, we become devoted to nature and want to protect her. 

Connection with nature brings meaning to my life and grounds me in the beauty everywhere. To be a steward of the land that we live on and make sure that we only do things to support the land and the animals that live on it is critical.  Ecologist and professor Robin Wall Kimmerer writes in her book Braiding Sweetgrass

“As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.” 

-Robin Wall Kimmerer

Our relationship with nature is not a one-way street, when we work to protect and care for the earth, we in turn are cared for and feel a vibrant sense of belonging.  Coexisting in harmony and being an ally to the land and animals is what I pass on to my children. To get them to see eagles flying, foxes sleeping on rocks, and deer grazing outside their front door is a gift they will carry with them their whole lives. Living where we do, in the Hudson Valley, helps me understand time and time again that we are not separate from animals and nature. We are all kin and part of something much bigger than ourselves. We all live together in a beautiful but fragile balance in our ecosystem. 

Environmental activist and scholar Joanna Macy writes in Active Hope

"Next time you see a tree or plant, take a moment to express thanks. With each breath you take in, experience gratitude for the oxygen that would simply not be there save for the magnificent work plants have done in transforming our atmosphere and making it breathable.” 

 

-Joanna Macy 


We have been given the precious gift of life, which wouldn’t be possible without the support of plants. Walking in the forest or by trees on a city block, give thanks to the power of these plants for allowing us to breath on this earth. Plant a tree, work in the garden, clean up trash when you see it, ask permission before your harvest, give thanks and gratitude in ways that make sense to you. 

Business Can Be Sustainable

Captain Blankenship is, was and will always be directly inspired by the natural world and the beauty and power of plants and minerals. April is Earth Month and it feels like the perfect time to discuss some big initiatives we are working on at Captain Blankenship. Sustainability of ingredients and packaging has always been at the heart of Captain Blankenship and we are constantly researching the best packaging and ingredient sources. We have decided to move our products into fully recyclable and reusable aluminum bottles with bulk refill/family sizes. We anticipate that the new packaging will launch early this fall. We try to source as many of our botanical and mineral ingredients as possible directly from farmers and cooperatives and are forging many new incredible partnerships this year. We will be putting our ingredient sourcing stories at the forefront of what we do to show you the magic of the plants and people we get to work with. We will be focusing this month on talking about three of my favorite ingredients: aloe, witch hazel and seaweed. We use these ingredients across many products in our line and it was very important for me to work directly with suppliers we trust to source these beautiful and powerful plants. We source our aloe from California, our witch hazel from Connecticut and our seaweed from Maine. I will be telling the stories of why we use these three ingredients in our products and how we source them this month. 

"We have decided to move our products into fully recyclable and reusable aluminum bottles with bulk refill/family sizes. We anticipate that the new packaging will launch early this fall. We try to source as many of our botanical and mineral ingredients as possible directly from farmers and cooperatives and are forging many new incredible partnerships this year. We will be putting our ingredient sourcing stories at the forefront of what we do to show you the magic of the plants and people we get to work with."


Most of the products were dreamed up on a walk I took in the woods or by the ocean and then refined by me into a mix of plant-based ingredients with evocative essential oil based scents. I find that my best ideas and creativity come when I allow myself time and space to relax outside. Spending time everyday in nature makes me happy, period. Nature is my anchor.


No matter where you are, in the city or the country, find time everyday to step out into your backyard or into a park to feel connected. If the weather is nice, take off your shoes. There is nothing that is literally more grounding that putting your bare feet on the ground. Close your eyes and listen. Hear the birds and feel the wind.  Open your senses, breathe deeply and welcome in the smells. One of my favorite smells is damp earth after a spring rain. Even if you can’t get outside today, use your imagination. I find that even when I am in a stressful place, conjuring an image of my favorite places, our sacred waterfall in the woods or the crashing ocean waves up in Maine, calms me instantly.

One really wonderful simple activity is keeping a nature journal where you can observe the changes in nature that you observe over the course of a year. Year to year you can reflect back on what was happening. This is also a great family activity to keep a collaborative journal. In our house, this just manifested as my son Caspian running around outside shouting, “signs of spring, mama!” seeing the green shoots coming up, me noticing the first speckled violets opening up in our garden, and my daughter Mila drawings daffodils in the journal. As we delight and pay attention to nature, in turn we are nourished.

Mila drawing daffodils


There is a bald eagle nest in front of our house. Each day I watch the eagles soaring over the river. We live on the Wallkill River and the river truly brings life. For years I saw eagles coming to an old tall oak down by the river and this winter I saw the eagles start building a nest there and keep adding on to it. I have been watching them together in their nest, which I am hoping is a sign there might be one or two eaglets born soon! Witnessing these beautiful birds building their nest and living their lives has been such a joy to behold. It also makes me acutely aware of time on a different scale.  Eagles can live to be thirty years old, they mate for life and they will keep using and building onto the same nest annually.  The nest is massive and my heart jumps with joy every time I see the eagles soar from the nest. I hope they come back every year and we will welcome them home. 

Bald Eagles Nest, New Paltz

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