April Earth Day 2020

This month is the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. If you don’t mind giving away your age, do you remember the joy? The sense of promise? Of good things to come that it inaugurated? Today it is difficult to find much that is positive.

Forgive me. I have listened much and often – perhaps too much and too often – to the news these days in the quiet of my home and isolation. There is so much darkness around us! The constant talk of the continuing spread of COVID-19, of the deaths and the job losses that have followed, of the down stock market and the distrust of each other that rears its ugly head as we hunker down.

And yet, I do find hope and light in so many ways even now. I see it in the mighty way that so many are stepping forward to help support the needs of the heroic healthcare workers and the many others who do not turn their back and walk away. I see it in the way a friend reaches out through a call or email just to say “How are you? What do you need?” I celebrate it in the way human ingenuity is finding solutions to the need for ventilators, masks, and isolation beds at this time of crisis.

And I see it in the way so many are turning to spending time in nature as the temperatures warm, as a way to reduce their stress and ease their spirit.

The Edge of the World

I took a walk the other day.
Out on the path, the wind filled my hearing and built a cocoon of sound and tempest.
In protest, I stepped off, as though entering another room,
And heard the quiet pip as a nuthatch searched
For insects among the trees.
Up and down, in and out of sunlight,
Branch to branch she looked,
Oblivious to our plight.

Layered behind her in the stillness
The cardinal called above
the cacophony of chorus frogs,
The drone of an airplane.
Layers of life.
Up close the green moss was brilliant,
Hidden among the pine needles of last year’s fall.

How can spending time in nature not ease us of our fears and concerns!

Even seeing pictures of this spring’s wildflowers on Facebook helps. People are sharing images of Dutchmans Breeches, Bloodroot, emerging Mayapple and Virginia Bluebells. Some are from Fayette County, but early spring flowers are starting here too. The life cycle begins anew.

Earth Day 2020 will be celebrated on April 22nd and through the year – as you would expect in these difficult times –in new digital ways. The theme for the year’s events is climate action. It is a call to move all of us to join in developing creative, innovative, ambitious and brave solutions that will help the world meet the climate crisis. The time is here.

You may think the problem is too large and your action too small but remember the house is built board by board, brick by brick; the quilt created stitch by stitch; the statue or painting brought to life chip by chip or stroke by stroke. The world needs all our actions large and small. Working together we make a difference.

If you participate in one action this year, the Earth Day Citizen’s Science project, you will contribute to one of the largest data gathering efforts in the world. Your individual participationwill help expand the available scientific data near you on two important issues: air quality and plastic pollution. Through the year, additional opportunities will be added to gather data in the four additional research areas determined of greatest importance. These were identified from 7 continents through a 2017 global crowd-sourcing initiative. The additional areas for study include insects, climate, food security and water quality. What an amazing way to be part of a global effort! What a vital way to involve your children – whatever their age!

You can get information here. I would love to hear all of us have signed up to contribute. I don’t think it will be hard or time-consuming.

Also, in the absence of large gatherings, here are suggestions for some activities from the Earth Day 2020 web site you can do at home. And remember, we can – and should – continue to do these throughout the year! As they suggest: Act, Speak Up and Stay Engaged.

  • Make an Earth Day window sign and post it for your neighbors to see along with some links.
  • Explore a variety of environmental education lessons and activities to do at home.
  • Challenge your knowledge and learn more. Take the Earth Day Quizzes!
  • Be an Artist for the Earth! Sign up here.
  • Support Earth Day in spite of being confined to home. See 11 Actions for the Planet During a Pandemic. There are a lot of great suggestions here and I know you can also create some of your own! (Spoiler…one is to create a wildflower garden!)

As you know, using native plants to create pollinator and butterfly gardens is one of the important contributing steps we can do. And perhaps this is the year to add a rain garden to the mix!

Please take the time to read through these ideas and plan what you will do for the earth on April 22nd. Make sure you include spending time in your garden celebrating its life. All our actions are important. All our actions matter. And remember to keep doing them on into 2020 and beyond!

As this year’s celebration says, “…Earth Day should not be seen as a deadline but rather a spark…” Let’s light up the world!

Note: Some native plant sales may be rescheduled this year due to issues related to the coronavirus. See here for the current sales dates of those where you can find Natural Garden Natives®.

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