Even though it’s snowing outside my window, I’m thinking about my favorite day of spring: Earth Day!
Annually celebrated on April 22, Earth Day is designated to promote worldwide support for environmental protection.
As a resident of the wild and wonderful Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I feel both excited and burdened by the responsibility to teach my children to take care of our glorious Earth.
When I was a young girl, the only “environmentalist” I’d ever heard of was John Muir. On a childhood trip to Yosemite, I learned that Muir had championed for the natural wonders of the world, specifically of the Yosemite area.
Muir believed that the very essence and character of God was revealed through nature. The wilderness was his church, the place he felt nearest to his creator.
I’d rather be in the mountains thinking of God, than in church thinking about the mountains. – John Muir
Although Muir passed away decades before the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, he, and others like him, remain influential in the spirit of conservation and appreciation of our marvelous planet.
There are dozens of Earth Day events taking place across the country this year– rallies and demonstrations to fire up individuals and ignite progress in communities.
In my small, rural town, and in my home, Earth Day will be simple, yet meaningful.
Here are some things my family will be doing this week, or in the coming weeks, to honor our natural environment.
Observing: because nature is intriguing!
We’ll slow down to watch the birds eating suet from our backyard feeder. We’ll observe the rabbit who has made a home beneath our lilac bush. We’ll even collect some of her droppings to make a hypothesis about the foods she eats. We’ll look for earthworms and let their wet bodies slither over our open palms.
Celebrating: because nature is FUN!
We’ll splash in puddles while belting out This Land is Your Land and Little Seed. We’ll brush aside the mulch and whoop over tulips pushing toward the sunlight. We’ll gaze at clouds and stars, squinting to make out dinosaurs and warriors. We’ll pretend the rocks at Piers Gorge are our own personal pirate ships. At the end of the day, we’ll toast marshmallows over a campfire, giving thanks for clean air and bright skies.
In every walk with Nature, one receives far more than he seeks. – John Muir
Reflecting: because nature is at risk.
We’ll read Graeme Base’s captivating book, The Waterhole, and discuss that not every place has access to an abundance of water like we do here in Michigan.
We’ll talk about endangered animals, and those already extinct. We’ll take a trip to the dump to see the ugliness of waste, then drive by the empty field that used to be full of hardwoods.
God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods, but he cannot save them from fools. – John Muir
Acting: because nature can be saved!
We’ll call to cancel a paper catalog that we don’t need. We’ll drop off our recyclables and imagine the new things they’ll become. We’ll remind one another to turn off the lights. We’ll grow starter plants in our kitchen window until it’s time to plant our garden.
We’ll gather food scraps for the compost pile. We’ll adjust the thermostat and the water heater to a lower temperature for spring. We’ll meet our friends at the Strawberry Lake trail for a litter pick-up walk and pledge our very own Act of Green.
We’ll give thanks for this Earth, brimming with awesome beauty, and acknowledge that the future of its creatures and features is our responsibility!
Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ (Genesis 1:26)
And then we’ll make exciting plans for opportunities to behold nature’s majesty, far and near, in the coming months — from the Rocky Mountains to the shores of Lake Superior to our own backyard– this summer promises the chance to soak up nature’s unlimited wonder!
I used to envy the father of our race, dwelling as he did in contact with the new-made fields and plants of Eden; but I do so no more, because I have discovered that I also live in ‘creation’s dawn.’ The morning stars still sing together, and the world, not yet half made, becomes more beautiful every day. – John Muir
Engage your kids:
What is your favorite place to observe and celebrate nature?
How might we act together in order to protect our natural surroundings?