Dear Earth, I have lived with you for more than four decades. In the early days I was fascinated by your colors. Your greens were so vivid and varied. Your browns were warm and enticing. Your common colors have never been common to me. I have found them to be the embodiment of life, rich like natural velvet. Your grass, leaves, stems, and weeds were shades that seemed nearly yellow and then ranged to a green that was dark and nearly black in the bottom of a jar where things started to grow because I forgot to empty it. The brown of your soil held so many secrets. I loved your feel and your smell. I can even remember the temptation to taste you after a freshly plowed field. You were salty. You smelled warm.
The glory of your flowers cannot be replicated. Still, the red poppies in a friend’s garden made me want to become a painter to capture the scene for others to see. The white of a magnolia blossom magnified by a full moon was a wonder to behold. With autumn your kaleidoscope of colors expanded defiantly before entering the sleep of winter. However, the excitement did not fade. I remember staring for hours at the shell of ice that outlined the stark tree limbs around my house after a big ice storm one winter. The ice glittered like diamonds in the sun until it melted.
Later, I felt small when I drove through the Rocky Mountains with a friend. I was awed by their size. My first switchback experience left me breathless. The earth seemed so strong. Then I was stunned to see what the Colorado River did to the earth it met as it traveled along. Some people prefer the Pacific; while others might like the Atlantic I have marveled at both and still felt a visceral pull to explore the Mississippi. I crossed its beginnings in Minnesota, laughed to see it again in Illinois, knowing that I would meet it once more in Tennessee and even followed it all the way to New Orleans.
I must admit that overtime I became too comfortable with you. I took you for granted; never thinking that you might not exist. The concrete sidewalks and steel buildings lured me to explore a vastly different world. Bright, artificial lights obscured your natural colors and the beauty of the sky under which we reside. I stopped seeing you. I stopped appreciating your beauty. I had too much to do. My need for convenience superseded my interest in authenticity. Plastic became my god.
But then I saw a landfill. What a funny term, landfill. This Earth Day I will remember that the land is full and bountiful. That its perfection is marred by me and others like me who step without looking and discard without thinking. I promise to remember. I promise to consider that my choices impact the next generation and the generation after that and those to come. As easily as flipping the paper around in my printer, I can conserve. Recycle bins and I will become fast friends. I will walk into a room and seek out the containers wherever I go. I will frequent the businesses and agencies that offer choices and places for recycling and reusing the clothing and shoes I no longer use. In honoring the earth I will honor my body by walking instead of driving. Is riding a bike something we really never forget? I will find out this year. I pledge to honor the earth by moving more and by riding less except when the wheels are powered by my energy.
Most importantly this Earth Day, I promise to honor the planet by reinforcing its importance with my daughter. I want her to be empowered to continue the movement to value our planet. I want her to see the shades of green and delight in the smell of rich, clean, pure soil. I want her to taste the earth and all that it has to offer.