The small ping tugged me out of my thoughts. Mail. I moved over to check it, clicked, scrolled and clicked again.
Not bad. Not bad at all for a month's worth of water in thirsty California. I won't pat myself on the back too hard as it is mid-winter and all. But still . . .
I decided to check this year's stats against last year's. Hmmm. Let's see. Down 700 hundred gallons from last February and clocking in at a very slim 6% of the average American's usage per Riot 4 Austerity's calculator! Suck on that, drought!
All of my utility bills tell a similar story. Down a bit from last year, more than half from two years ago. The difference, though, is that last year - my first full year of really really trying to live green - I suffered. I cringed at the short showers. I froze my buns off. I winced at the flies in the compost heap. Ate by candlelight. Sloshed grey water en route to the butterfly bush. Scoured cookbooks for "seasonal" recipes. And swallowed more guilt than mozzarella at the local pizza joint.
Still, I hesitate to open each new bill that arrives, afraid that my usage will have soared in the preceding month. You see, my focus has changed since last year. Lately, I've paid far more attention to the fiscal viability of my child's school and far less to lightening my planetary load. Instead of fretting over LEDs or the temperature of our hot water heater, I'm organizing a rummage sale, working on a political campaign, manning two constantly shifting carpools, teaching a dozen kindergartners to walk like a bear, and packing three lunches a day.
Thinking solely about green living has fallen off my radar screen. The beauty, though, is that I thought about it enough last year. In that year of grey water and compost heaps, I am embraced a new normal. I found and loved certain seasonal recipes and learned how to pack a lunch without a stitch of trash. I came to terms with shorter showers - which really meant taking them every other day but for a bit longer. My body acclimated to seasonal temperatures and we invested in an electric blanket. I ripped out a bunch of grass and went native. And I fell in love with power strips and a clothes line.
I developed new habits and I hope they die hard.