I’ve been lucky to have seen some heart-wrenchingly beautiful places in remote areas around the world, but this Earth Day I’m celebrating one that’s closer to home. Because it is home. My own little spot of soil and sand; a wee atom in the great being that’s our Earth.
I’ve seen the full cycle of seasons bring out unique beauties as the Earth’s axis dips us farther and closer to the sun. The drunken drone of bumblebees fat and laden with pollen in the sweet heat of summer. The long winter shadows and wind ripples in the unbroken snow. The silent fireworks as fall leaves spin to the ground where busy squirrels crunch through them. In spring, it’s turning smiling faces and bare limbs to the warming sun and skies so endlessly blue they make your eyes water.
This isn’t the prettiest time for my piece of earth. Bare branches nubbed with buds wave skinny and awkward in their renewed adolescence. And the gardens, free from snow, reveal a long winter’s collection of compost and the tale of a bitter wet fall told in the brown pages of unraked leaves.
It’s a constant and humbling reminder that we humans are really not necessary for the Earth. She was turning organic matter into new dirt long before we got here. Birds still serenaded each other in the trees. She pushed up mile high mountains, carved grand canyons a grain of dust at a time. Polished boulders smooth with the slow patience of glaciers and rivers. Clouds formed and dissipated into rain. All without our help.
Maybe because we’re unnecessary in helping her be incredible and beautiful, is why so many try to assert dominion over the Earth. To prove our worth with how quickly we can turn the trees into paper money. Thinking that, in her destruction, we’ve somehow shown we’re better than nature.
People are always searching for something larger than themselves, not realizing that it’s all around them. Not just in the grand temples of national parks or atop Everest or in some far-flung part of the galaxy. But in the bugs and earthworms under our feet and the silent clouds floating overhead. I’ve always thought churches were redundant when you have nature. There’s no purer, closer connection to any kind of creator you wish to imagine than being outside. Even in my little ½ acre temple of brussel sprouts and dandelions.
No. We’re not needed here. But there is always happiness in that humility for me in knowing that you can help. We have choices to either help or hinder nature. And we make them every day. So in this new spring, when I see buds unfolding into flowers, when lilies wake themselves from underground, and when I brush away the compost and dig my hands into the earth and pull up a tangle of happy earthworms and know that we’ll soon turn this brown bit of earth into a garden that will feed birds and bees and houseguests alike, I know I can do something to help make the earth better while I’m alive. And that someday I’ll join the soil and become part of the processes that were here long before humankind.
So make that choice. Today and everyday. It all starts at home. Because everywhere is home.