There is an old Native American proverb which reads: “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
Chief Seattle stated long ago: “The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the Earth.”
The poet Khalil Gibran writes: “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
As we celebrate Earth Day this weekend and should, ultimately, every day, I challenge you to get outside– alone, or with friends, with your children, or your pets. Breathe in all that is deep and clean and pure and breathe out the toxins and stress and defeat.
Hike a mountain or take a walk in the woods.
Play with worms in puddles or in the dirt.
Plant seeds or re-pot root bound plants so your kids can see what happens when we do or do not have the nourishment, space, air, soil or sunlight to grow.
Watch for the birds and listen to their songs.
Watch for ticks as they are extra bad this year, and I’ve already pulled two off myself while cleaning up the winter debris.
Let your kids ride bikes through puddles, lay down in puddles, splash in cold rivers.
Have band-aids on hand because that’s usually all that is needed after a sandy wipe-out or skid gone wrong in the cycling club of life.
Examine the tulips and daffodils and crocuses as they pop up through the dirt.
Pick up the garbage in your neighborhood; wear gloves if you must, but show your kids how taking care of “home” is a team effort. The garbage may not be yours, but it’s bad for our Earth and animals if left. It’s a good opportunity to also talk about the needles, sadly, you may find in the unlikeliest of places. Always notify the police to have those items disposed of safely.
Make friends with those neighbors who are also outside enjoying the day. Do your best to be friendly even to those unfriendly neighbors; maybe even the ones who file formal complaints against you via your condo association. In the memorable words of Michelle Obama and echoed in my yard just the other day by our wise and wonderful neighbor Ginny Peck: “When they go low, you go high.” Her kindness kept me from crying after an anonymous “neighbor” filed another complaint. In our defense, we were doing the spring clean out last weekend and moving skis, etc into storage. Apparently our spring cleaning upset them very much. We take tremendous pride in our yard, our home, our children, and our work. Not to worry, I’ve figured out through some good detective work who they are and will be doing a proper introduction the next time they are in town. They do not yet understand we are Geoff and Heather Krill, and we make a difference in the world. And if they knocked on our door, we would invite them and offer them a beverage and maybe even a snack depending on how recently I’ve been to the grocery store. We are civilized, respectable people and deserve to be treated as such. However, if you do know of an affordably priced handicapped accessible house in Lincoln/Woodstock with a garage, please let me know as the cul de sac might not be big enough any longer, sadly.
Don’t let someone else’s grumpiness ruin your good vibes. Smile and wave and laugh into the breeze. If you have an issue with someone, use your words. Be a grown up and model for your children how to collaborate and problem solve. This too is part of taking care of our green earth; we build community, and through shared experience and compassion, our humanity takes better root.
But the best lessons we can take from Mother Nature are those of resilience and adversity. We work through the climb, pause and reflect when challenged, and find our way through the woods as we will every problem that surfaces in our path. We watch trees find sunlight in cracks; we uncover new growth beneath big rocks; we see the view from up high and the problems we left down low aren’t so insurmountable after all.
There is a passage in True North which reads, “Losing your way in the world is scary. If possible, view the world from the top of a mountain on a clear, starry night or bright morning, and remember…”
Remember all that is possible on this Earth; remember how hard we must work to take care of her, our Mother Earth, and in doing so, we must also take care of one another, and recognize, “…the ebb and flow of humanity, the mountains and valleys, the challenge and opportunity, the love and loss of life” (True North, prologue).