Tag Archives: ENACT

Earth Days: Past, Present, and Future

daffodils

daffodils

Since January 2017, I have belonged to a Facebook group, March for Science. This group has been focused on organizing Earth Day (April 22) marches in support of science. In my life I have been mostly an English teacher, not a scientist. On my registration form for the march, I checked “science enthusiast.”

For months, March for Science group members have been posting “Why I march” comments. I loved almost all of the comments I have read and sometimes I cried about the stories. I never laughed because the current repeated attacks on scientific truth are deadly serious.

I love—I really do—the scientific method. I have read about, known, and admired many scientists.  I admire many of my mentors in the Rivanna Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists. In literature,  John Wesley Powell, who scaled canyon walls with one arm, is one of my heroes.  Farley Mowat, who railed against the decimation of human and animal populations in Canada, is another. However, my reasons for marching next Saturday in Washington, DC are, perhaps, more in keeping with my English major sensibility.

Exploration

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons

Why I Will March for Science on Earth Day

I attended the ENACT (Environmental Action for Survival) Teach-In on the Environment at the University of Michigan in March 1970 (see https://blogs.lib.msu.edu/red-tape/2016/mar/march-11-14-1970-university-michigan-holds-environmental-teach/ for more information about the teach-in). I was a young idealist then and I am old idealist now. I won’t give up.

I march in honor of my mother. I planted my first garden with my mother: popcorn and radishes against the side of the house in Detroit. Counting that garden and the one I grew with my brother George, that’s 45 years of gardens, most of them organic. Food and beauty. I won’t give up gardening now.

swiss chard, "Rainbow Mix"

swiss chard in my garden: “Rainbow Mix”

I march in honor of my father. My father taught me how to fish, skip stones, rake leaves, and shovel snow. He put up a hammock between two tall oaks, so we could see the sky, the water, and the leaves while we rested and dreamed. I won’t give up the dreaming.

Scenic Lake, Michigan (my brother's lake; I don't have a photo of mine)

Scenic Lake, Michigan ( my brother’s lake; I don’t have photos of the lake I grew up on)

I march in honor of Michigan and the Great Lakes, my first home. They want to cut EPA research for the Great Lakes by 97%. I want them to hear my “no.”  I remember the crayfish and the sunfish in the sunny shallows of our lake. I remember the power and strength of Superior. I will not let them destroy our lakes without a fight.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

I march for the Grand Canyon, Zion, Glacier and all the rest of the federally protected lands.

Transept Canyon from Widforss Point

Transept Canyon from Widforss Trail, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

I march for the Kaibab squirrels of the North Rim, for the condor who glided past us on the South Rim, and for all the crows and ravens everywhere. I march for the bees, and for the butterflies, and for the American hornbeam that we planted in our yard last month and for the ponderosa pine, iconic tree of the North Rim (and food for the Kaibab squirrels).

butterfly with black-eyed and verbena bonariensis

butterfly with black-eyed and verbena bonariensis

I grow old. I do, in fact, sometimes wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled, but I will not stop now.

I have many more things to say. Maybe I will write about them another time or maybe not, but I will march and I will not stop.

Happy Spring.

 

April: Cruelest Month (?), Earth Day, Earth Mother, and the Possible Limitations of Agnosticism

lilacs, Denver Botanic Gardens

lilacs, Denver Botanic Gardens

I want to go on record that I don’t think April is the cruelest month. How could I believe that when my youngest child and my father were born one day (and about 70 years) apart in early April? I just like T.S. Eliot and so I usually remember these words about this time of year:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

From “The Waste Land,” by T.S. Eliot, 1922

I have also been thinking about Earth Day/old days. In 1970, I went to the Teach-In on the Environment at the University of Michigan. We were big on teach-ins back there in Ann Arbor. 1970 was also the first summer I went west and thereby became even more taken with nature than I was growing up on a lake in Michigan. In Ann Arbor, I was a minor functionary in ENACT (Environmental Action for Survival). In fact, in 1971, I submitted testimony for ENACT related the Trans-Alaska Pipeline to Congress. My own comments related to possible drawbacks of the pipeline for native peoples were included along with other, more academically expert, testimony. Since I am bringing up this tiny historical footnote, you probably notice that it was a big deal for me. I think we all stopped the pipeline for a few minutes or something.

Not only was I not very successful as an environmentalist, I didn’t even make it as an Earth Mother, and that designation didn’t seem to require any coursework. I sort of went back to the land to the extent that I have been an (mostly) organic gardener for forty years. I do recycle (some), I do clean with vinegar and other non-toxic materials, and I think our children feel a connection with and a responsibility to the natural world.

The Part about Agnosticism: Actually, I am a flaming agnostic (some might say waffler, know-nothing, etc.). I don’t claim to know anything  about god or the meaning of the universe–and I have a hard time figuring out how one would claim to know such information–and I don’t have much use for or patience with organized religion. The thing is, because of my broken wrist (see, Scat Happens), I have had call to stretch my hands like this:

hands

hands

This exercise has made me think about prayer. I am still a flaming agnostic and proud of it, but I am still reverent and hopeful within the natural world. So, below are a few of the photos I’ve taken on our travels. Happy Birthday Bill and Dad. Happy April. Happy Earth Day/Week/Month.

butterfly and coneflowers

butterfly and coneflowers

 

Scenic Lake, Michigan

Scenic Lake, Michigan

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

View of Cape Royal and Wotan's Throne, Grand Canyon

View of Cape Royal and Wotan’s Throne, Grand Canyon

Great Salt Lake from Antelope Island, Utah

Great Salt Lake from Antelope Island, Utah

Garden of the Gods, Colorado

Garden of the Gods, Colorado