Green Chi: Thoughts on a Train

I am writing this while on the train into NYC with my daughter Lily to see “Rent” before it goes off Broadway in September. I live in the Hudson Valley and the train to NYC is remarkable in that the track runs right along the edge of the Hudson River. Views out of both sides of the train are always interesting because on one side is the river–more than one mile wide at points–and on the other wetlands.

It was on this train line that I saw my first bald eagle a few years ago, almost extinct for most of my life. The reason, it is thought, is because of the use of the pesticide DDT, a metabolite of which softened the shells of their eggs, killing the chicks. The world of this river feels so much friendlier because these majestic eagles are back and not now so harmed.

The train itself also is also much less toxic than it was 10 years ago, the maintenance crew having shifted away from stronger disinfectants, and it, too, feels friendlier.

Toxic chemicals seem to have a hostility built into their nature. It is more than an off-putting vibration; some chemical odors make you stop in your tracks and not want to enter their odor.

A bank in my town is like that. The plastic sunlight windows heat up and off-gas and the whole place smells of it. I mentioned it to a teller once and she said that everyone complains of the smell, and she worries about what it is doing to the employees.

Other chemicals make you wary, like the “rose” smell of herbicides. The scent is toxic but the rose smell is pretty; I can feel my whole being go into confusion as I sense the contradictions the scent breeds on many levels.

It is the friendliness of green living that I am drawn to so deeply.

This train I am on is healthier for the little babies with their growing central nervous systems. It is more embracing of the pregnant women’s need to protect her unborn. We can relax more because our systems aren’t braced against poisons. I’m pleased with the progress much of society is making in evolving away from toxics. Hopefully the intuitive sense of the friendliness and feel-good contrast will inspire the rest to follow.

If people do not revere the Law of Nature,
It will inexorably and adversely affect them.
If they accept it with knowledge and reverence,
It will accommodate them with balance and harmony.
–Lao Tsu, Tao Teh Ching

Recently named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine, Annie has authored four books, including “Home Enlightenment” (Rodale Press, 2005) and “Better Basics for the Home” (Three Rivers Press, 1999).


Robert O.
Robert O7 years ago


Bon L.
Bon L7 years ago

Thanks for the info.