A Father’s Legacy of Natural Living

Reader Contribution by Crystal Stevens
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father was a master carpenter and sourced a plethora of brilliant ideas for DIY
building projects directly from the magazine. My favorite was the swingset he built for my sister and I in
While inspiration cannot be physically traced, I am certain that the streams of
words I heard from my father’s voice while my head was pressed against
his heart and the smell of his morning coffee filled the air, inexorably
educated me about the environmental issues which faced our society and
inevitably moved me on a profound level to take action as an adult, all the
while becoming educated and informed by reading Mother Earth News.

While Mother Earth News originated before I was born, it doesn’t alter the notion that my life as I know it today is attributable to the inspiration I have found from the magazine throughout the years. I have been
reading Mother Earth News for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest
vivid childhood memories is sitting on my father’s lap as a young girl reading
the magazine together in the 1980s and all throughout my childhood. He would
read aloud while I studied the pictures of passive solar building, vegetable
gardening, sheep shearing, building your own sugar shack and the beautiful
array of topics which he read to me frequently. Those images, along with the
camping trips in the mountains, the whitewater and canoeing excursions, and our
family trip to Alaska,
have been etched in the catacombs of my childhood memories and have sculpted
the person I have grown to become.

In 2000, my
father was diagnosed with lung cancer. As a believer in natural medicine, I,
along with my mother, convinced him to try alternative medicine. I got a job at
a local health food store in order to receive the 20 percent discount on
organic foods and supplements. I worked in the juice bar and would bring him
wheatgrass shots and fresh mixed vegetable juice after each shift. I remember
reading articles in Mother Earth News on juicing and wheatgrass and learning
their benefits on the systems of the body. My father’s energy level
significantly increased with each natural approach we took.  He started
seeing an acupuncturist, Dr. Sachs. My father showed tremendous results to
alternative treatments but to his demise, he did not give up smoking. The
cancer then spread to his liver and his doctors strongly recommended
chemotherapy and radiation.

The stress of a
culmination of exhausting treatments, living in the inner city, not being able
to provide for his family, and unbearable pain eventually led to his
deterioration. My father died in 2005. He left a beautiful legacy behind. He
inspired many people in his lifetime.

One of the most important lessons I learned from him was
that, “You don’t need to have a lot of money in order to live a rich and
fulfilled life. Beauty in the natural world is free and all around you, you
just have to take the time to explore it.” I am grateful for the insight
and wisdom he bestowed upon me. The greatest tangible inheritance I received
from my father was his collection of Mother Earth News magazines. Because of
that collection of dusty magazines from three decades and my mother’s support
and encouragement to follow my dreams, I went on to become an herbalist and an
Alternative Energy Practitioner and eventually a farmer. Everything I learned
from reading Mother Earth News inspired me to make changes in my own life for a
better planet.

I have come to a place in my life
where I love what I do. I work outside in a beautiful, natural setting where
native tall grasses blow in the wind, where migrating birds fly overhead by the
thousands, where stillness and quiet reign over noise, where my children are
closeby and exposed to nature daily, and where my husband smiles, winks and
waves to me while passing by on the bright orange battery-powered Allis Chamers
tractor on his way to cultivate a row of vibrant lettuce. Because of the impact
my father made on me through his love for reading Mother Earth News, my dream
has always been to write for the publication. I feel that inspiring others is a
quintessential component to making the changes we wish to see in the world!
This is merely the story of one out of millions of readers of Mother Earth News
since 1970. I would love to hear your story. Please comment on this post below
with a few sentences about how Mother Earth News inspired you.