Happy Earth Day!
But a radical conservationist like me can't escape without mentioning Earth Day. It's a day that I treasure every year. It's not steeped in commercialism like most American holidays. It's not meant to make people feel bad or guilty or lonely or inadequate. It's a day to appreciate what a beautiful world we live in and make changes--no matter how small--to help keep it that way. So happy Earth Day!
Here in Maryland, the weather is finally breaking, and hopefully for good! It's been cold and overcast and rainy for the past few weeks, ever since we got that week-long spell of warm weather. In honor of this, Bobby and I took the first hike of the season today. We took Alex, so it was a short one: we walked the unmaintained trail in the Patapsco Valley State Park system that leads to the Liberty Dam. The more I walk them, the more I love PVSP's unmaintained trails more than their maintained "major" trails. Not only are they less crowded but they seem far more interesting. Yes, one may have to slog through the occasional mud puddle or climb over a fallen tree here and there, but it's worth it for the different species of plant and animal on these trails as well as the unique locations--like the Liberty Dam--to which they lead.
Starting in on the trail, we noticed right away that the river was high. This wasn't surprising, though; we've had a lot of rainfall over the past few days. The world is starting to come to life; every day marks the emergence of more baby leaves in that pale green-yellow color that's impossible to perfectly describe. But it looks divine against a bright blue sky. :) The first flowers have started to bloom, and so despite the fact that Maryland has remained in winter's grip for the past few weeks, Spring is taking unmistakable hold.
Not far along the trail, the river had overflowed its bed and created something of a wetland along the trail. This isn't uncommon to this area, so the trail skirted it nicely without a lot of slogging through the mud. But the water has nurtured lots of growing things, and everything was green and smelled briny, like fresh water. (Which always makes me want to go scuba diving!) We saw some baby ferns starting to unfurl, and I spotted the year's first May apple.
We weren't far beyond that when we heard a dull roar; we couldn't tell if it was water or traffic because it was distant. It was water: the dam was open! We'd hiked to the Liberty Dam before, but it was closed. Despite being a human-made feature, it's quite pretty; very graceful. It was more lovely with water pouring down it. And the cold air that came off of it was amazing, like standing in front of an open refrigerator.
We found a path down to the water and let Alex frolic in the shallows for a bit. He started a bit frightened of it; he'd splash and scare himself. But after a while, his Golden Retriever instincts took over, and he had a great time.
We also saw some of the year's first butterflies: a tiger swallowtail and many common blue butterflies, which like to land on the rocks near creek beds. We took the SeaLife and Canon SLR cameras, and I got what I hope are some good landscape pictures and a few macros ... and of course, with the digital, pictures of Alex playing in the water and of the Liberty Dam.
It felt wonderful to return to nature, where I am and always have been happiest. I tried for a while to become more of a "city girl" ... but it won't happen. It can't. I love this Earth too much.
Of course, Earth Day is partly about recognizing the beauty of our world ... but it is also about preserving it. And as I walked the trail today, mostly alone (because Bobby walks; I meander), I thought about Earth Day and how futile I feel, at times, as a conservationist, in getting people to change their behavior. I just can't understand it. We have such a beautiful home, and whether you think it was created by a divine being or shaped by the slow hands of nature and time, it is a beautiful place; it is our home; it is all that we have.
Yet people rebel at the slightest change. What is so hard about saving cans and bottles separately from the rest of the trash? If Bobby and I can have room for a recycling bin in a one-bedroom apartment, then anyone can do it. And why, when choosing a new car, do we think of price and appearance but cannot think about that car's impact on the Earth? In other words, why do I pull into a row of five cars sometimes, and four of them are huge SUVs? Is that necessary? Or is it necessary to toss garbage out of car windows or buy chemical-laden brands when organic is widely available, tastes the same, and is similar or the same in price?
Why are people so comfortable in destroying their home?
I think it's illustrative when, along a trail deep into the forest, I find garbage tangled in the underbrush. People who use State Park trails, presumably, are people who also love being outside in this beautiful world. Yet they so wantonly hurt it ... I don't understand it.
So this Earth Day, let's stop to look at our beautiful world, to admire it ... and to make changes to save it.