Here’s a sampling of the love and good wishes that have poured in from all corners as the 10th anniversary of my column drew nigh. You all are sweet! But I must say I am still waiting for the chocolate.
10. Congrats! We’re taking time to think about a creative question. –Global Green USA [Dearest Global Green: Thank you! And I’ll be waiting.]
9. Dear Umbra, you have given this Vermonter SO MUCH great advice over the years — you are my favorite part of Grist! Love, Liz S., Waterbury, Vt. [Dearest Liz: And you are my favorite part of Waterbury! Except maybe the Ben & Jerry’s factory. Thank you for the love.]
8. Dear Umbra, What is the most environmentally sensitive way for an advice columnist to celebrate a 10th anniversary? The traditional gift for the 10th anniversary is tin, but I don’t have to tell you how damaging tin mining is to the planet. Is there any kind of “fake meat” equivalent for tin that I could substitute in this situation? You know, something like … “sei-tin”? –Eric A., Oakland, Calif. [Dearest Eric, If I were giving seitan trophies for the most creative greeting, you would get two, and then we would sit down and eat them together.]
7. Hi Umbra, I’m new to your writing, but love what you do. All the best. –Gonzo Nic, Queensland, Australia [Dearest Gonzo, So glad you found us! Hope to have a question about the eco-impacts of Vegemite from you soon.]
6. Happy birthday! Another year of pink slime, climate disaster, population explosion, herbicide poisoning, pesticide poisoning, animal cruelty, and wondering if free will in humanity is really a product defect. –Amy L., Wichita, Kan. [Dearest Amy, The good thing about product defects is you can usually get a full refund. Fingers crossed.]
5. Not original, but heartfelt: Thanks for being Umbra with the useful and punny advice. Only sorry I didn’t know about and read your column for the full 10! –Sharon M., Hayward, Calif. [Dearest Sharon, Heartfelt right back: I’m so glad to know you’re reading.]
4. Umbra, if you haven’t moved out from under the stairs yet, take a cue from Harry Potter! You deserve a (daylit) corner office and an extra week per year of (eco-)vacation. –David H., Bexley, Ohio [Dearest David, I’ll forward this note to my boss. I’ll have to brush up on my Quidditch though.]
3. Can you really be only ten? Nothing seems beyond your ken. (Speaking of Ken, what is the safest way to dispose of all those vinyl dolls?) Happy birthday, dear Umbra! –Jane B., Conway, Mass. [Dearest Jane, You could keep Ken around, but don’t lick or chew him. Seriously. That is a real tip.]
2. Raise a glass to Umbra! To her encyclopedic knowledge of all things eco, her tireless wit, her ability to not run out of adverbs … Umbra, I am sending you a card. A virtual one, not one made from innocent tree pulp. –Lou B., Boulder, Colo. [Dearest Lou, To mangle the words of the great Tom Lehrer, I read your message eagerly, eagerly, eager L-Y. A glass raised right back.]
1. Dear Umbra, You are awesome! Happy birthday! The end. –Ben T., Mt. Vernon, Iowa
Dearest Ben, it is indeed the end of the list, but it is just the beginning of a fresh new decade. Fasten your lederhosen, dearest readers! Stay tuned for more sage advice, and favorites from the archives, in the coming year (why celebrate an anniversary for just one week when we can drag it out for 52?). And thanks again for the remarkable years of love, support, and fascinating eco-dilemmas.