The Earth Laughs…

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 Earth-Song here:
“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.
image_6d8d6d49-00f3-4982-82e9-1eeaff5a1a9a.screen shot 2020-04-22 at 6.39.08 am
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


37 thoughts on “The Earth Laughs…

  1. A much-belated Happy Earth Day to you, too, Cheryl. I love both your Mom’s quote and that of Clara Pinkola Estes. I have been aware of her as a writer for so long, yet haven’t read her yet. So many books, so little time! I love all your photos – so rich and heartwarming, as nature is. Just a lovely post overall – thank you for taking the time to put it all together. Our Earth sure does need us. I believe every word to the positive helps.

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  2. Great advice from your mum! I wish I’d being given that little ditty, but I know now. Happy Earth Day to you, Cheryl. You have a lovely connection with nature which seems to encapsualte the little things, unseen, as well as the showy display. I’ve found myself more interested in using the virtual means of face to face and I’ve registered with Zoom, which I’ve heard of so much now. Not road tested it yet, but will get around to it. The poem is astonishing for the times it was written in. I hope we learn, but I fear those with the power to change things, and driven by their need for personal gain, are the ones who won’t be interested in learning, then mother nature will have to teach more and more lessons until they get the message.

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    1. I think you’re right, Lynne. Right now, it seems that Mother Nature is “just preaching to the choir.” There will certainly be more lessons to learn. And my hope is those in power soon are replaced by those who are guided by community and love, not greed and fear.

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  3. Ah, a Northern Parula. I wonder if I’d be so lucky as to have them in the northern states. If not, at least you shared that beautiful photo. Spring seemed to have an early start in March (when we’d usually have snow) but it’s been feeling more like March this April with snow flurries on Tuesday. Glad it hasn’t gotten too hot for your outdoor adventures. Enjoy!

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  4. As usual, there are so many things in your post that speak to me, Cheryl. Emerson, an increased appreciation for our mother’s as we grow older and for technology (the ability to stay connected via Zoom), feeling fortunate to have your own save haven via garden retreat, NPR (although I’ve reduced listening time and balance them out with other media sources), and your absolutely stunning photos. That bird, for instance, on your header — did you take that photo? It speaks so much of gentleness, and the brilliant flowers are spectacular — a collage of why I love gardening so much. As gardeners, we have so much to be grateful for and even more so during times like this. Warm wishes to you and yours for enjoying a real spring — my favorite season of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, I took all the photos. The bird is a Northern Parula. So beautiful! I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw him. That was my first sighting of one and I enjoyed researching to find out exactly what species he was. We’ve had a glorious spring here in NC. Hope you’re having a nice spring. Be well.

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  5. We’ve given the Earth a nice break … while I want to be freed from isolation, I love what has happened with animals and plants and sea and air across the globe. I will not enjoy watching it be filled up with people and pollution again. Love your photos and message today.

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  6. I like your mother’s line! I also think Ms. Estes has it right. We can only change or affect what is in our purview. I think doing what you can locally can change a community and that community can change a county or a state. Or you change a life or make someone think differently and they are able to do the same–and of course it all has an inner effect as well. Goodness, I’m getting philosophical here, but so be it. I hope your Earth Day was satisfying!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I think you’re right. I was (kinda) whining today about feeling like I’m not doing my part for the environment beyond tending my little plot of earth. A woman in the virtual group said, oh sure you are! She said, “You may never know the ripple effects that go out from planting pollinator gardens, inviting wildlife in, feeding the birds, and creating a beautiful garden for others to enjoy as they walk by.” That really gave me pause to think. I guess activism can start small and at home.

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  7. Beautiful, all of it! I love the CPE quote. Is it from “Wolves”? Would love to check out some of those little-trod trails with you when we get to the Other Side. xo

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  8. Ha! I like your mom’s take on life 🙂 Personally I will be most happy when we people awake every day with a full heart and the consciousness to bless our earth. Emerson’s poem was insightful and prescient wasn’t it. I remember reading it in college and not understanding the fullness of it – but having a ‘feeling’ that he knew something I didn’t yet . I think those have always been my favourite moments when reading -oh, new thoughts, there’s something here for me to learn. And still I love the lone image ‘the earth laughs in flowers’ …… The Great Pause continues – I’m glad to read you are enjoying the online life – me too ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember reading that poem years ago and a great aha! rang out. It was not the sweet little jingle that I thought it was. And yet, I also like the simple phrase the earth laughs in flowers, too. Both/and works for me. My mom was quite a woman, Pauline. It is only as I grow older that I’ve begun to understand her. Thanks for always reading and commenting ❤️

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