My grandmother, Franny Reese, told us the story of her summer trips to Canada more than once: how she camped out with her family (even when it rained), cooked over a campfire, swam in the river and looked at the stars. I usually rolled my eyes and pretended that I wasn’t listening, but something must have stuck, because I can almost hear her voice telling the familiar stories.Frances “Franny” Reese, a Scenic Hudson founder with the author, her grandaughter.
In the heat of the summer or the freezing of the winter, we were always outdoors at Granny’s, hiking on a trail at a park, canoeing on the nearby Hudson River, or sledding down to the pond behind her house. She was constantly pointing out a piece of moss or an odd-shaped leaf or remarking on the beauty of the sky or the sound of a bird. Granny clearly couldn’t help but instill in her children and grandchildren the same love of nature that had been instilled in her. Impelled by the love of nature, Granny also taught us that she loved.
When I had my first baby, I remember being sent home with a great big package of baby creams, and shampoos—all the stuff that I had loved and used in childhood. That anything was harmful about these products had never occurred to me, but a little research on the preservatives and fragrances in these products revealed to me that they contained certain toxic chemicals. A whole world opened up to me, and I became fixated with finding healthier products for my family. This new fascination, which I consider my grandmother’s legacy, led me to co-found an online retail store focused on organic and natural products for babies and young children. I love spreading the word and chatting with new parents about things that they can do to provide a safer environment for their babies and themselves.
In addition to running the online store, I have been trying to do my part in reducing our family’s carbon footprint and generally going green. There are zillions of things we don’t do, but I am constantly learning new tricks and tips and then testing them out on my family. Some changes have gone smoothly. (I am not even sure my husband notices that we don’t use conventional cleaners any more.) Some changes have not gone as smoothly. The ban on white bread has met with resistance. Whenever, Daddy goes shopping, inevitably buying white bread, he is met with cheers and the ‘most favored parent’ status…for a little while.
In terms of passing down my grandmother’s traditions to my three children, I always return to my memories of walks with my grandmother and I am reminded that the best way to teach a passion and respect for the natural world is by being outdoors, in all seasons, in all weather. I want my kids to climb trees and rocks, to run and jump, to see animals and appreciate the world around them. I know the value of planting these seeds early and my hope is that these early experiences will make the love of nature second nature to them.
Go Green Today:
A couple of tips to get you started