Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day

I consider Earth Day to be a day of celebration for the simple, natural things that are so often taken for granted: the beauty that abounds in the world we live, the earth's natural resources that sustain us, as well as the comfort and pleasure experienced by our interaction with the natural world around us.

There is no better time to recognize the beauty in the environment around us than in the springtime.

As my little part of the earth awakens from its winter sleep, it is easy to feel the changes. I am more eager to get up in the morning, anxious to give in to my annual nesting instincts. I feel ambitious, creative, and so alive. Aside from mundane household chores that require equal parts of vinegar, water, and elbow grease, the first thing I want to do is walk around the yard just to see if anything has changed overnight. Every place where last year's flowers grew need to be examined. There is an unmistakable joy as the first buds appear on the trees. Their silhouette against the sky becomes more intricate as the tips of branches elongate with new growth, resembling delicate lace, especially at dusk when all the once-vibrant colors of the landscape fade to black and white.

Even before the grass turns green, the first wildflowers appear. Then, there are tiny sprouts from last year's flower bulbs. Each discovery is a new revelation.

Mother Earth enhances the process with another of my favorite things--rain.

Rain transforms the woods like a hot shower after a hard day's work. The sweet fragrance and overall clean feeling is so revitalizing.

The rain is life-giving, a nourishing elixir that affects all plant life. After a spring rain flowers almost magically burst forth; the buds on the trees open as tiny leaves emerge. Once painted in shades of tan and brown, suddenly the world seems to change into every variety of green from yellow-tinged chartreuse to deep, dark forest green.

Early spring brings about a new awakening in the forest landscape. I am not the only one that feels it. The air is abuzz with bumble bees, butterflies, damselflies, and other insects. Tree frogs begin to sing their songs. Just after dawn, the woods are alive with chatter, as birds prepare to build nests. 
My personal favorite is the goldfinch who lives here year-around.

The male is, for me, one of the first signs of spring. During the winter months, his color is similar to that of mustard, a dull, olive-tinged shade of yellow. But as springtime approaches, he sets out to attract a mate. As he molts, his new feathers are the most vibrant yellow. The color of his body contrasts with the black bars on his wings. What female could resist?

When it isn't raining, the world is bathed in sunshine. Its warmth is almost intoxicating, making me want to spend the day outdoors. It sometimes gets so warm that it chases me into the shade, the shade made by those great, sturdy oak trees covered with its new leaves.

Some of the most glorious days of the year occur in the spring. Can anything be more pleasant than a day when the temperatures hover around 70º to 75º, with a gentle breeze?

Happy Earth Day!