Thursday, April 26, 2007

Article: The day the world smiled

Sunday was Earth Day.

Despite the promising weather forecast, a relentless drizzle leaked from the sky starting around noon. I stood with my horse while a neighbor took photos of her twin grandchildren petting Chesapeake’s enormous nose. The daughter and her offspring were visiting from San Francisco, she explained, the grandkids had never seen a horse before. Chessie stood quietly while they held the toddlers up to brush their tiny fingers along her broad blaze. I wondered sadly how many years it would be until they had their next encounter with livestock.

By the time the photo-op concluded, I had reached a conclusion. Forecast or no forecast, this was actual rain and it was not likely to let up soon. I gave up on the idea of an afternoon ride and returned Chessie to her pasture. I think we were both disappointed.

In my opinion Earth Day should be celebrated outside. I didn’t have formal plans. I’m not a social person so I eschew organized gatherings. With 6.5 billion people on the planet, I figure my physical presence isn’t needed. From the shelter of the back porch I looked across the jungle taking over our yard. Looked above the deep green of the juniper in the back pasture. Looked through the mist cascading gently from the infinite blanket of clouds. It seemed to me that the earth was sad and it reminded me of a poem:

Laugh and the world laughs with you
Weep and you weep alone
For the sad old earth
Must borrow its mirth
But has trouble enough of its own
______________Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The dismal sky seemed to reflect the troubles of the planet. The Earth gets a single day each year to celebrate--same as cousins (July 24th) and reptile awareness (Oct. 21st), same as the American flag (June 14th) and grandparents (1st Sunday after Labor Day). All of these things are important and they all share, as everything about humanity does, a dependence on the Earth. So it seems our planet deserves at least a week.

I entered the house to find my husband watching a video. I sat down with him. Turning my attention to the TV. I saw Al Gore presenting a slide show on global warming. Rick and I both saw “An Inconvenient Truth” in the theater. I often think that the only reason he cares anything about the environment is because he’s married to me. As the video neared its end, Rick remarked that he’d caught a lot of things in the second viewing that he hadn’t noticed the first time.

While watching the movie seemed a suitable pastime for the planet’s special day, it did not improve my mood. It again reminded me again of the poem and the troubles that plague the Earth.

I switched the TV over to the Discovery Channel. They were having a marathon of their new series Planet Earth. I’d never seen it but had heard good things. While the video is at times spectacular, I couldn’t tolerate the inane narration. How many times can they fit the phrase “Planet Earth” in their descriptions?

Unmotivated, I sat down at my computer and stared at the monitor. I still have a lot of work to do repairing my dad’s photos but I didn’t feel like doing it. I found myself browsing randomly. Eventually I stumbled upon a series of photos I took in April of 2004. 2004 was the last good year for wildflowers and these photos showed the diversity that grew on our property that year.

The photos reminded me that under the gloomy sky, bluebonnets are blooming again. And there are other wildflower plants just waiting for the right moment to show their colors. I know I’m not doing everything I can to save the planet. I’m probably not doing everything I should. But at least I’m preserving something on this little plot of land. Each year we loose a little as we become more hemmed in by development, but this Spring, the wildflowers are returning.

I smiled a little thinking of that. Maybe the Earth smiled with me.

Photo: Bluebonnets in my front pasture in the Spring of 2004.Photo: Cat claw is one of my favorite flowers. They look like purple powderpuffs with yellow tips.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

have you gotten a chance to read that language instinct book? that sounds really interesting. I bet your daughter is a smart girl.