A friend sent me a text message this morning, wishing me a “Happy Earth Day!” Hunh, I commented, I hadn’t realized that was today. For some reason I thought it was the 24th of April, not the 22nd.
When I got to work, I wished my colleagues the same… and got the same response. “Hunh,” said one, “I thought it was on the 25th for some reason.”
Another wryly commented, “Didn’t you know? Every day is Earth Day… to a Forester!”
That’s right, folks, our office is full of people whose jobs are to think about the Earth, or at least the environment. We work for an agency whose leader sent out an Earth Day message, thanking us for what we do. We live in Wisconsin, the state where Earth Day was created, the state whose Wild Rivers legislation formed the basis for the National Wild and Scenic Rivers, the state where Aldo Leopold lived out his years with his family, the state where our soils, our minerals, our timber, and our waters form the basis for the economy as they always have. And we didn’t even notice it was Earth Day.
I’m not criticizing us, not myself nor my colleagues. We might not have made any special effort to conserve water or turn off lights today. We might have wasted some paper and we surely drove some gas-guzzling trucks around. But we did our darndest to make the Earth a better place for all of its living things to thrive. As we do every day.
For me, I can honestly say that no day goes by when I do not think of our natural world in some way. Sometimes it is indeed taking the extra step to recycle my grocery bags, or composting kitchen waste, or buying local produce. Sometimes, though, it is just sitting outside on a sunny spring afternoon and breathing deeply. And being thankful that I live in a place where that is possible. And hoping that we can maintain the best parts of our Earth, and repair those places where clean air and water aren’t the reality.
The theme of this blog is discovery on our rare planet – discovery of the first blossoms of spring, of waterfalls and oceans, of our diverse human cultures. This year, I haven’t been doing much exploring, because I slipped on ice and broke my leg, the day after the bulk of our snow melted. When I have paused from my reading and internet-browsing and other indoor diversions, I’ve felt sorry for myself, because I can’t get out and enjoy the spring of the year. I have watched as friends posted on Facebook the first wildflowers of the year, the Pasque Flowers and Hepatica. I am facing the reality that I won’t be walking by the time my Wild Turkey hunting season rolls around next week. I have been following the progression of spring bird migrations, but haven’t gotten out to see and hear the flocks. I join in the speculation about whether or not this will be a good year for morel mushrooms (I’m voting on the yes side, if the weather pattern holds), but I won’t be stumbling around in the woods looking for them myself.
Yet… I live in a world, on an Earth, where all of this is possible. I am lucky enough to be able to get out and do all of those things, most of the time. I have been so fortunate as to see so many of the truly amazing places on our continent and our planet! And if there is one thing that I know more surely than anything, it is that I want to keep living in this amazing world, and I want future generations to have the same opportunities.
So yes, I forgot that it was Earth Day. In fact, I don’t really care that it is Earth Day, because, even if it makes me sound like a corny tree-hugger to say it… Every day is Earth Day. Or it should be.