“Nature is full of genius, full of diversity, so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand”
Henry David Thoreau
“After you have exhausted what there is of business, politics, conviviality, and so on -have found none of these finally satisfying, or permanent wear – what remains? Nature remains.”
Walt Whitman
“I don’t think I shall ever see, a poem lovely as a tree.”
Joyce Kilmer
Earth Day, April 22nd, is close, so here’s the humanist piece I promised. Whether it’s Carole King singing “I feel the earth move under my feet” or Hemmingway’s earth moving sex exploits in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” there are endless examples of our intimacy and spiritual connection with Mother Earth. Our beautiful, blue island drifting in space, as I love to describe it. Scientists at either pole are measuring her tears, as do meteorologists describing the latest inundations, whether in Bangladesh or Boston. Perhaps mixing with our own tears as more are shed over the shambles people’s actions have left in the wake of our own stupid ways. One way or the other, we will pay attention to Mother.
The luckiest of us have shared that wonderful experience of awe and loving connection felt by aboriginals scattered from country to country. Often “civilization” has blunted that sacred connection, or insists they be first in line for decimation over our sins. Yet even then it fails to extinguish their love for this natural family bond under attack.
Speaking of family relationships, Kyle our grandson, has chosen a path through high and low terrain, beautiful and sometimes punishing in his journeys as a “through hiker.” A pursuit that’s taken him from the “Pacific Rim” to the Appalachian Trail, and “Continental Divide Trail” that marches between them. He often experiences that trance of one foot following the other, the normal means of ambulation for Homo sapien for eons! Always accompanied by his small, canine companion, Katana. She’s totally blind now so he mainly carries her, as he did when just completing his home state’s “Florida Trail” running from Miami to Fort Pikens.
Even closer to home and nature’s beauty, the garden created by my wife and over six decades partner, Marie Isabel. Since our youngest days Bell has lost (no gained) hour after hour in heartfelt labor producing gorgeous gardens. Heartfelt is the appropriate word, because each flower and budding blossom is showered with the attention given a dear friend! For those who have spent time or eating with us in Bell’s garden, you’ll surely recall the graceful statues of various Mediterranean ladies bearing water – or simply resting tranquilly among angels. Our neighbor, David, upon first entering the garden described it as paradise. I wouldn’t argue the point so thanks to Bell’s ceaseless attention I live close to paradise. As do all of us lucky enough to plant roots in this undisputedly, magical corner of the world.
That said, we’ve always thought of nature’s beauty as, well, infinite. Only to realize, as most of us have, that much like the creatures dwelling on it planet Earth is finite too. At least as far as a biosphere conducive to a thriving human existence is concerned. In the Anthropocene epoch we’ve encountered an alarming confluence of climate change, planetary warming and degradation, poverty and social inequity, fundamentalism and political turmoil such as humankind has never confronted! Call it a “perfect storm” “Armageddon” or anything else, the peril for people and planet is close at hand. The list of challenges is daunting and without going into detail, here are ten:-
1. Species extinction
2. Food insecurity and nutritional deficiencies
3. Threats to coastal cities and island nations
4. Social conflict and mass migration
5. Lethal heat
6. Surging wildfires
7. Hurricanes, more frequent and intense
8. Melting polar ice and permafrost
9. Spread of pathogens
10. Dead corals
Even a half degree of temperature rise matters. But let’s wrap up with an article from this morning’s local newspaper.
“A 26-foot sperm whale was found dead off Sardinia with 48.5 pounds of plastic in its belly, prompting the World Wildlife Federation to sound an alarm over the dangers of plastic waste in the Mediterranean Sea.
The environmental group said the garbage recovered from the sperm whale’s stomach included a corrugated tube for electrical works, plastic plates, shopping bags, tangled fishing lines and a washing detergent package with its bar code still legible.”
My apologies for dragging this on for so long, but time is short. As the saying goes, we can’t do everything, but we can do something! We, each in our own way, have the means. Remember our today is borrowed from our children’s future…