Happy Earth Day from Lifekind

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, Rejoice, for your soul is alive.”
Eleanora Duse

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I’m writing this post on John Muir’s birthday, April 21. The pioneering Scottish-American preservationist would have been 178 years old today. I’ve loved Muir since the third grade, when I first read My First Summer in the Sierra, the journal he kept as he accompanied a flock of sheep from California’s San Joaquin Valley to the Yosemite high country in 1869 as a young wanderer.

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Around this time each year, people try to put into words the feeling they have for the Earth, our terrestrial home. For those who feel deep connection to nature, that can be intimidating!

Muir was equal to the challenge. In Summer, as the group moved slowly from the heat of the Valley to their destination in the High Sierra near Tuolumne Meadows, he became entranced by what he saw and felt:

“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.”

I know that feeling — maybe you do, too. The suspension of time, a sense of oneness, kinship with everything, the joy of being truly home. I just can’t describe it the way he could!

Freedom and immortality can be real and concrete on a day spent in nature, rooted in things we can touch and hear. Muir was in the Sierra, but it can happen anywhere — mountains, valley, ocean, or a park in the heart of a city. The natural world can inhabit us, and we it:

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,—a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal.”

Muir believed that everything in the natural world is beautiful in its own wild, original state. Landscapes spoke to him, along with plants and insects, rocks and storms and trees and “flower people” — recognition of the kinship we all share.

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Sometime soon, along with all the things large and small that we do to try to be kind to our planet, try to go to the wildest place you can find. Even if only for a little while. And savor the feeling:

“Beauty beyond thought everywhere, beneath, above, made and being made forever.”

Made and being made forever — everywhere. That’s our planet, our home. It’s beautiful.

 

(All photos: public domain)

45 Earth Day Resolutions

Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and the air smells brand new. It’s Earth’s promise of fertile prosperity, her reminder of new beginnings. Earth Day represents a time to reflect and find more ways to give back, above and beyond the good habits we’ve already adhered to for her benefit. Let’s think of it as Nature’s New Year and set Earth Day resolutions!

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This Earth Day, let me plant some seeds. We need to be thinking of our impact on Earth every day. It really is up to us to support her health. Our health is dependent on hers and vice versa. Here are some excellent things we all can do this year:

 

1. I will plant some of my favorite veggies in a garden or pots.

2. I will keep clean reusable produce bags in my grocery bags.

3. I will keep shopping bags in my purse or car and use them when I shop.

4. I will only use safe, biodegradable cleaning products.

5. I will teach my kids to read labels.

6. I’ll just get the economy car instead of the SUV.

7. I will stop buying single-use non-biodegradable trash bags.

8. I will replace all the incandescent light bulbs with high-efficiency bulbs.

9. I will cook more foods from scratch, in order to use less packaging.

10. I will take a walk or hike at least once a week to connect with nature.

11. I will not buy another “bottled water” again, ever.

12. I’m going solar!

13. I will keep my air conditioner set 3 degrees warmer.

14. I will keep my heater set 3 degrees cooler.

15. I will choose organic cotton instead of conventional or synthetic material, at least once.

16. I will plant a tree and nurture that tree.

17. I will look for locally produced items before buying imports.

18. I will not use chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides on my property.

19. I will purchase organic foods whenever my budget allows it.

20. I will start composting kitchen scraps.

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21. I will use reusable containers instead of plastic zippy bags.

22. I will sign those land-saving petitions each time this year.

23. I will ask a friend to sign those petitions too.

24. Instead of party favors, we’re doing planet favors.

25. I will consume less meat.

26. I will turn in a “litter bug” if I see one.

27. I will drive 5 mph slower on the freeway.

28. I will consciously slow down at times to take in Earth’s beauty.

29. I will buy more food in bulk in an effort to create less waste.

30. I will shop at farmers’ markets at least once per month (seasonally).

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31. I will focus on buying produce when it’s in season.

32. I will ride my bike to work/school at least once a week, because it’s only 2 miles.

33. I will never use chlorine bleach or ammonia again. Ever.

34. I will read the label of every garment of clothing I buy this year – where it was made and what it was made with.

35. I will not buy any more synthetic body care items. Ever. Because it is body pollution, it goes down the drain, and my body is her body.

36. I will turn my water heater down.

37. I will not buy a plastic one if there is a glass or metal one.

38. I’m just going to go ahead and get that hybrid or electric car I’ve been thinking about.

39. I will volunteer at my local watershed cleanup.

40. I will pick up random trash when it is within my passing reach.

41. I will subscribe to a new media source for Earth news.

42. I will take shorter showers.

43. I will eat more organic raw foods.

44. I will kick my big-box store shopping habit.

45. I will drop-kick my dollar-store habit.