“Earth teach me stillness, as the grasses are stilled with light…
Earth teach me suffering, as old stones suffer with memory…
Earth teach me caring, as parents who secure their young…
Earth teach me courage, as the tree which stands all alone…
Earth teach me limitation, as the ant which crawls on the ground..
Earth teach me freedom, as the eagle which soars in the sky…
Earth teach me resignation, as the leaves which die in the fall…
Earth teach me regeneration, as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself, as melted snow forgets its life…
Earth teach me to remember kindness, as dry fields weep with rain.”
from the Ute people of North America, in “Singing the Living Tradition”
The international observance of Earth Day is for me the most important holiday on the calendar. I can’t imagine anything more important, or anything that makes as much a difference to everything that lives, as planet Earth. I am still working on how to make this day Holy. I want to marvel at, record, and lovingly share as many memories as I can. I want to be physically active outdoors. I want to help mitigate some of the damage that humans have done. And I want to invite, encourage, and implore everyone to join in the celebration and protection of our lives’ Host. We are all interconnected, living expressions of Earth-ness, alongside everything else on the home crust. What an amazing community to belong to! This year, I’ve added a new page to my blog celebrating Oregon as my home Place. Please take a look! https://scillagrace.com/oregon-outdoors/
“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” ― Alice Walker
“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke
“Let me, O let me bathe my soul in colours; let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow.” ― Khalil Gibran
“Nature in her green, tranquil woods heals and soothes all afflictions.” ― John Muir
Anne Sandler has chosen “Colorful Expressions” for the theme of this week’s photo challenge. Please visit her post HERE to learn how color enhances photographs and see her wonderful examples. As the global community celebrates Earth Day this week, I hope you’ll feel a gratitude and affection for our planet that compels you to protect and defend her with your best efforts.
Once, a very, very long time ago, before there was a “United States of America”…
…the Earth went through some dramatic changes. Gradually, new life emerged. Large animals, different from the dinosaurs, roamed the vast grasslands of the continent.
Not only did Earth sustain these large herds of ungulates, she also supported enormous trees in extensive networks of forest.
Eventually, however, a new species evolved, and in the blink of an eye by Earth’s time, this one dominated the canyons, the grasslands, and the forests and used up or destroyed much of the Earth’s abundance.
Somehow, it finally dawned on this species that they were causing great harm to the Earth. Many of them dedicated their large brains to the resolution of this grave problem.
It’s difficult to know what will happen in the next chapter of Earth’s story, but every member of every species on Earth is playing a part. Consider your part. Act wisely and with compassion for Her.
Thank you to Amy for issuing this photo challenge and for sharing her beautiful illustrations of Earth’s story. Click HERE to see her post.
Tom Paxton wrote the song “Whose Garden Was This?” for the first Earth Day in 1970. John Denver released an album that same year, named for the song, which he covered.
Whose garden was this? It must have been lovely Did it have flowers? I’ve seen pictures of flowers And I’d love to have smelled one
Tell me again, I need to know The forests had trees, the meadows were green The oceans were blue, and birds really flew Can you swear that was true?
Whose river was this? You say it ran freely Blue was its color, I’ve seen blue in some pictures And I’d love to have been there
Tell me again, I need to know The forests had trees, the meadows were green The oceans were blue, and birds really flew Can you swear that was true?
Those who imagine the Earth as a garden, as opposed to a wilderness, consider humans to be the primary architects of plant communities and responsible for their creation and maintenance. In this Anthropocene Era, human impact dominates the landscape, and the soil serves our needs – for food, for resources, for beauty, for creativity. It’s important to remember, though, that one of our needs is to have a healthy planet, one that will be resilient to our mistakes, our greed, our hubris. There is always a need for observation and humility, an imperative that we learn from autonomous ecosystems.
Whose garden was this? It must have been lovely Did it have flowers? I’ve seen pictures of flowers And I’d love to have smelled one..
Thank you to AMY for this week’s challenge theme, and Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow to all you blogging Moms (like me)!
“To acquire knowledge, one must study;
but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.”
― Marilyn vos Savant
It is a great honor to be your host for this Lens-Artists Photo Challenge and to be part of a community of observers. Thank you for visiting my blog and getting to know me. I look forward to getting to know you, too!
The artist’s gaze, the photographer’s eye, when cast on a subject begins a relationship. That relationship can grow into a deep affection and a profound wisdom. It is that aspect of relating to your subject that I invite you to explore in this challenge.
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” ― Brené Brown
I am a very visual person, as you might be also, and consider observation to be the first tool in my learning kit. To look carefully, curiously, enthusiastically, enduringly, and lovingly at something changes me. I begin to feel connected to that subject. I develop an affection that fuels further and deeper observation and understanding.
“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins as in art with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language. ” ― Aldo Leopold
My journey from Nature-observer to Nature-lover to Conservationist to Earth advocate is the story of how my eyes opened my spirit to a deeper wisdom about the world in which we all live. I celebrated International Earth Day on April 22 with others around the globe who are deeply in love with our planet and concerned for her health and welfare. As I’ve gotten to know Earth better, I have grown in relationship to her and in my understanding of the factors impacting her. The photos I’ve chosen to illustrate the development of this relationship start with a monarch butterfly caterpillar on a milkweed plant in a restored prairie and progress to a field of coneflowers hosting a swallowtail butterfly and other pollinators. I took all of these pictures while I was working at a conservation foundation and learning about the interconnection between plants, animals, soils, landscapes, and the humans who cultivate, steward, and extract those resources.
My invitation to you is to present a “Getting To Know You” post showing your relationship with a subject you’ve photographed. The subject could be a Person, a Place, a Culture, an Object…anything that has captured your attention, won your affection and taught you a thing or two.
In your post, include a link to my original post and use the Lens-Artists tag so that everyone can find your post in the WP Reader. We hope you join us and share what you know and love!
Next week, Patti will be hosting Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #146 on Saturday, May 1, so please be sure to visit her site and joint us then, too. Her theme will be “Focusing on the Details”.
Thank you for spending a little time to get to know me and these butterflies in their natural habitat. I again want to thank the Lens-Artists hosts – Patti, Amy, Tina, and Ann-Christine – for inviting me to host this week’s challenge. It is an honor and a joy to be a Lens Artist!
Tomorrow is Earth Day. The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970, when
“twenty million Americans displayed their commitment to a clean environment. It was called the largest demonstration in human history, and it permanently changed the nation’s political agenda. By Earth Day 2000, participation had exploded to 500 million people in 167 countries. The seemingly simple idea — a day set aside to focus on protecting our natural environment — was the brainchild of U. S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. It accomplished, far beyond his expectations, his lifelong goal of putting the environment onto the nation’s and the world’s political agenda.” (from The Man From Clear Lake by Bill Christofferson)
That simple idea – that Earth deserves the attention and respect of all its human inhabitants, and protection from harm – seems to me more fundamental than any other ideology formed around life on this planet.
It boggles my mind that damage done to one magnificent cultural edifice can command more attention than the complete destruction of countless forest cathedrals, that concern over relics of antiquity can eclipse the horror of the extinction of living species…including our own.
“In the last 20 years, over 3.5 million hectares of Indonesian and Malaysian forest have been destroyed to make way for palm oil. Almost 80% of orangutan habitat has disappeared in the last 20 years. We are losing over 6,000 orangutans a year.” (from The Orangutan Project website)
“The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the Sixth extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is a current event, and is one of the most significant extinction events in the history of the Earth.” (Wikipedia)
I want to present to you, on the eve of Earth Day, an invitation to reflect on our hubris, our ignorance, and consider ways to protect, conserve, respect, and champion our planet, perhaps with the affection you might tender towards a venerable ancestor.
She’s been around a long, long time. None of us would be here without her. And we have treated her badly. We have made grave mistakes. Perhaps now we can admit we were wrong and make reparation.
For example, PLASTICS. They’ve only been in existence for 60 years or so. We lived without them before; we can live without them again. No big deal…except if you’re protecting the plastic-producing industry instead of the inhabitants of Earth.
Steve and I found a quiz on Climate Change Solutions that yielded some surprising information. I challenge you to test your assumptions about effective ways to curb climate change by clicking HERE.
How will you honor Earth Day this year?
How are you changing habits that have proven destructive?
How are you encouraging love and respect for the environment in people you know?
Like my hero, Jane Goodall, I have hope in the ability of humans to make moral choices about how to behave towards the planet. In an interview with Mongabay, “Dr. Jane” gives five reasons to have hope for the planet:
The energy, commitment, and hard work of young people once they understand the problems and are empowered to discuss and ACT upon solutions.
The human brain.
The resilience of Nature.
The indomitable human spirit – the people who tackle seemingly impossible tasks and won’t give up.
My most recent reason for hope is the power of social media.
I feel acutely the urgency of making better decisions and practicing to do no harm in whatever way we can. Please leave a comment if you would like to share examples of your practice that may edify me and others.
Thank you for reading this post. May you enjoy the beauty of the planet where we live, Earth, in a deeply personal way tomorrow.
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
(all photos in the gallery under copyright by Priscilla Galasso)
I plan to celebrate Earth Day 2017 by helping the conservation foundation I work for plant 5500 trees on 11 acres of land that has been farmed for a long time. White oak, pin oak, red oak and shagbark hickory seedlings will be growing up around monarch and pollinator meadows for years to come. Eventually, the area will resemble more closely the hardwood forests of the area prior to European settlement.
I think a lot about the impact of the human race on our planet.
I am trying to have a harmonious relationship with the Earth. It’s not easy. So much was put into place before I was born. I feel locked into an abusive and foregone conclusion. I greatly admire those who break out of that and live courageously and radically “off the grid”. I do what I can, beginning with raising my own awareness and spending more time listening and observing.
How do you get to know a planet? It’s a complex organism. So many moving parts…
What a perfect topic for a photo challenge! Mother Earth is my favorite subject, and I’ve got LOTS of nature photos featured on this blog. Check out my Wisconsin Outdoors and Wilderness pages in the header above for some of my favorites!
Since this is the beautiful, lusty, bright month of May, I think I will highlight one of the woodland ephemeral wildflowers that emerge in my neck of the woods at this time: the Mayapple. Yes, the tiny bud eventually becomes a little green fruit rather like a crab apple, but I hear it’s unwise to eat them in any quantity…because…well, you know… Anyway, here’s one small citizen of Earth, from bud to maturity.
Today’s challenge is “Abstract”, and it’s Earth Day. So many beautiful textures and forms in nature that may be completely unrecognizable close up although familiar at a distance. One definition of “abstract” is to remove, as in remove it from its context.
When you abstract something, you may consider it theoretically and separately from its surroundings. This is something that scientists do particularly.
And then the challenge is to put it back into context and look at it holistically, as a whole, interconnected thing.
This is exactly the way we need to look at our Earth. Parts are interesting to study, but the whole, living thing is what we need to protect.
The complexities of our planet, the delicate balance and harmony of its interdependent eco-systems, are perhaps far beyond our capacity to understand. Therefore, it’s important to respect them and strive to preserve their integrity. And it’s equally important simply to revere them and enjoy the awe they inspire.
May you enjoy the Earth today, in abstract detail and in whole.
This month, I was honored to be the Associate Editor of The Be Zine, and the theme of the issue is “The Joys of Nature: Wilderness, Gardens and Green Spaces”. Browse the entire blogazine here.
What exactly is our relationship with Earth, its wilderness, its gardens and its green spaces?
Of course we all value this place in some way. I won’t call it our home, although we all live here; we can live nowhere else. To me, the idea of ownership seems inappropriate at least and inaccurate at best. This place may be closer to owning me, in fact. And ‘home’ makes it seem so domesticated. Is that what it is? Or is it unapologetically wild and autonomous? I have decided to approach this place as I would an equal: with humility and respect for both of us. That seems to be the best moral decision I can make.
Others don’t agree. They consider this place a servant in need of stewardship. They talk of ‘eco-system services’ and measure the value of this place by the benefits it provides to one species, a single leaf on the great Tree of Life – Humans. They extract the elements that serve them, but they are not producers, like plants; they are consumers. They talk in economic terms, like ‘board feet’, but the only thing they truly produce is waste, of which only a minimal amount can be absorbed and re-used. They concern themselves with ‘management’, imagining a parental responsibility for the growth and training of this place. It’s ironic to me that the child they attend is billions of years their senior.
This place is often valued for its beauty, prized for delicate and powerful sensual elements that fill the soul and spark the imagination. Many who praise it lift it far up on a pedestal of mysticism but decline to offer it their understanding or their presence. To them, it can become remote, surreal and alien, a romantic fantasy on an epic canvas.
Some view this place with disinterest, perturbation, or downright disgust. Standing on it just means that it’s beneath them; they will not allow themselves to be grounded. It takes a great expenditure of energy to maintain this separation, but they achieve this distance by employing every distraction and applying every veneer currently available.
This has been called the “Athropocene Era”, the geological epoch of Humans. We are the dominant species at the moment and the major force impacting the Earth. We’re no longer a hunter-gatherer society, and our advancing technology is always at the expense of natural resources, even if our intention is to use it for conservation efforts. For example, the ‘progress’ we have made in recycling plastic still uses tremendous energy to break down the material and still results in the production of waste and toxins. The unchecked growth of our species has effected the climate of the entire planet and threatens a mass extinction.
It stands to reason that the only way to lessen our impact is to become less numerous, consume less, and produce less waste. We must slow down and live simpler, more sustainable lifestyles in order to stop this growth mentality that has become a global menace. Then we can begin to nurture an equal relationship to this place and its inhabitants.
Let us spend time with this place, pay a lover’s attention to its moods, its responses. Let’s be careful what we take and what we leave behind. Let’s respect this place in every detail and not dismiss the nuances in its character. Let us champion its autonomy and dignity, seeking to understand but not using that understanding for our own advancement and growth. Let’s explore to gain wisdom, not to invade. And let us celebrate our love for this place! Teach it! Demonstrate it in song, story, art and work!
I hope we will not grow weary or discouraged in this love. There will certainly come a new age of geography yet, whether our species is included or not. In our own lifetimes, though, living a loving relationship to this place is its own reward. It is a love to fill the heart, soul, mind and body and bless the world.