Caring for the Earth should become a way of life

Happy Earth Day! earth day 2015

Since 1970, April 22 has been a day to raise awareness, brainstorm for ways to reduce our carbon footprints, and take the necessary steps to do something, anything, to take better care of our Earth.

Is it working?

I was 7 years old when I walked in the first Earth Day parade in Cedar Rapids. My friend’s mother dove right into the recycling campaign and was thrilled at the idea of a parade. With unhinged excitement, she tied plastic bottles and tin cans to us and encouraged us to walk proudly down the middle of the street during the silent and dramatic statement of the horrible injustice we were doing to our Mother Earth.

The ’70s had ushered in an era of gas-guzzling monstrous cars and insane industrial growth, and no one seemed to care too much about the consequences of what it would do to the balance of nature. But one man did.

Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, took action after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. According to earthday.org, he was “inspired by the student anti-war movement, and realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.”

It wasn’t until years later that I understood the significance of that first walk. It was the beginning. And though the entire world may not understand or share the same urgency as many of us do, at least we can say we are trying. We are doing something we believe in.

Every day we are given choices that can help us do our part to raise awareness of the importance in reducing our waste, to conserve energy, to come up with better ways of doing things. Take the bus, walk or ride a bike; turn off the lights or invest in energy-saving light bulbs; plant a garden or a few trees. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Let me state that again. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

More people need to become aware of the massive impact humans are having on our beautiful Earth, and we need to learn how to take better care of her.

How am I going to celebrate Earth Day? I’m going to pick up trash in my neighborhood. It might be a little thing, but it’s some-thing.

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Spring, finally

For me, spring holds many fascinations.

It isn’t just the  warmer weather that intoxicates me; it’s the rebirth of life itself that makes me appreciate the wonders of nature.

Life at its best

I have always been an outdoors kind of person. I’d spend my days hiking the woods and exploring the unknown terrain by our house. The only reason I would even come in would be to eat or use the bathroom, and even then it was difficult to tear myself away.

But as I grew older, communing with nature kind of lost a bit of meaning for me. Maintaining a home, working, and all those other distractions of life kept me from doing what I wanted to do. I think too, as I matured, that my feelings changed about bugs, worms, and snakes, and I found myself grossed out by them. Camping, something I once enjoyed, really wasn’t as fun as it used to be. The adventure turned into pain, the hard ground taking its toll on my aging body. The creepy, crawly bugs and annoying mosquitoes made me more frustrated than anything, so I often opt out of that type of recreation.

But working in the yard the past few years, playing with my grandkids, and taking long walks in the park, have made me regain some of the pleasures I used to find in spending time outdoors. The calming effect it has on me made me realize that I still find it enjoyable, and remember how much I loved it as a kid. I’m finding that those simple pleasures of seeing a flower make its way through the tough shell of its bud, and the happy songs of the birds, are just reminders that life is a cycle and we are all part of that.

I enjoy, too, seeing the fruits of my labor, knowing that I am helping to beautify the world a little at a time.

In the words of one of my favorite scriptures, this is the way it is supposed to be, the way God intended. The birth, the life, and the death, and the rebirth of everything.

“To  everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun; a time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted,; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to lose and a time to seek; a time to rend and a time to sow; a time to keep silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8