I woke up this Earth Day morning thinking about a poem that is often quoted, but only part of one line: , “The Earth laughs in flowers.” I remembered that phrase comes from a longer piece Hamatreya, by Ralph Waldo Emerson that tells more about why the earth is laughing in flowers. There’s more to the story, or poem. You can read Hamatreya in entirety at the link above, but I’m adding part of it and part of the short subsection titled here: Earth-Song “Earth laughs in flowers, to see her boastful boys Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs; Who steer the plough, but cannot steer their feet Clear of the grave. They added ridge to valley, brook to pond, And sighed for all that bounded their domain; “This suits me for a pasture; that’s my park; We must have clay, lime, gravel, granite-ledge, And misty lowland, where to go for peat. The land is well,—lies fairly to the south. ’Tis good, when you have crossed the sea and back, To find the sitfast acres where you left them.”
“Here is the land, Shaggy with wood, With its old valley, Mound and flood. But the heritors?— Fled like the flood’s foam. The lawyer and the laws, And the kingdom, Clean swept herefrom.
“They called me theirs, Who so controlled me; Yet every one Wished to stay, and is gone, How am I theirs, If they cannot hold me, But I hold them?” I find these verses both humbling and humorous (dark humor, perhaps, but…). We humans try to control everything–even the Earth. Holding on, grasping, gripping, seizing, taming, manipulating, controlling. When the real truth is we cannot even control ourselves.
In the words of the cultural icon Paul Harvey, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
But on to this: Happy Earth Day!! Today is the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. I started out the morning at 6am zooming with the North Carolina Audubon Society. I watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean while birds greeted the dawn, each with their unique song. Two months ago you couldn’t have paid me to participate so much in virtual meetings and meetups. Today I’m finding online life very human-filled and connective. I appreciate technology in a different way these days. Although I long to and am ready to meet with my communities in person.
I’ve been outside in my garden and walking my neighborhood greenways a lot lately. Some friends told me about trails managed by Triangle Land Conservancy that were not visited by too many hikers. So for the first time in well over a month, Chuck and I set out on some real woodland trails and it felt amazing to be way out in Nature. Many of these pics were taken at White Pines Nature Preserve in Sanford, North Carolina. The others are in my garden. I feel so fortunate to have my own little hortus conclusus that I retreat to every day.
I hope everyone is faring well. We are all healthy here, and hope to stay that way. I plan to enjoy Earth Day in my garden, transplanting some plants since I didn’t make it to a nursery this spring. It’s a lovely cool, crisp morning here in central NC. We are finally enjoying a real spring. Usually we would have jumped completely into summer by now, bypassing spring. #grateful
Below is a link to an NPR program that I listened to this morning about what we can individually “do for the environment.” I found it both comforting, and not. What do you think?
What can I–one person–do for the environment? I keep going back to a quote by one of my favorite teachers and writers Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It resonates with me, and so I try to abide by it. She says, “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach… One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire.”
I also have a quote I live by that my mom ingrained in her 4 daughters: Do good. Be kind. But take no shit. Those words have served me well in throughout my life and especially in this virulent political atmosphere. I’ve rambled enough. I think all I really wanted to say is Happy Earth Day! Be well. And thanks for reading my words.
Take a listen, if you’d like, to this 11-minute NPR program: On 50th Anniversary Of Earth Day, What You Can Do For The Environment