Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Earth Day Celebration

Earth from Space with Stars

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey Flickr Page:

The old button from the Environmental Club days which I just happened to find on Earth Day! It is a little beat up (particularly the ends of the ribbon), but no worse for the wear, I think. And it is one of the few items that I have left from those days, so it carries a lot of great memories for me! Nothing Changes Until You Do!

Here is a picture of a very similar logo, with the same message, that was on the t-shirt that I purchased from the BCC Environmental Club and, if memory serves me correctly, may even have helped to make. There were a few projects like that which club members, myself included, were regularly involved with. It has been so long, however, that I no longer recall specifically if I actually helped to make these or not, although I do believe so, since I remember seeing the process of the t-shirts being dyed. In any case, I loved this t-shirt, and have kept it ever since, even if I do not regularly wear it. Since it was part of my experience with the BCC Environmental Club days, as well as more generally having an environmental theme, it seemed appropriate to share it here. 

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."

~Mahatma Gandhi

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
~John F. Kennedy  

This year, like all other years since 1990, I celebrated Earth Day. However, it was a little different than years in the recent past. I was working during the day, and had to work at night, which meant taking a nap in between jobs which, in turn, meant no hike. And unlike last year, I did not have my son with me, either. So, while wanting to make sure that I continued the tradition of celebrating Earth Day, it was more muted than usual.

That said, I did get to spend some time outside, enjoying the beautiful weather. And I did look up to the budding leaves on several occasions, as the youthful, bright green that marks early spring is one of my favorite scenes. In fact, I enjoyed the lush green of grasses and the splash of colorful flowers here and there where they were to be seen, as well.

Still, it was not quite the Earth Day for me that last year was, and so I will republish my experiences with my son from last year's Earth Day, and hope to repeat them a bit this weekend, when I will have the chance to spend more time with my little boy:

I have made quite a big deal of this particular Earth Day this year. Yes, normally I dedicate a couple of blog entries to Earth Day the last couple of years or so, but I seem to have gone all out this particular year.

There are reasons for it, though. First of all, we have apparently reached a threshold already. We have gone too far to hope for no detrimental impact whatsoever, although we really should try to make a point of minimizing the impact that we will face in the future, due to our own human activities. Now, it feels far more urgent than perhaps ever before.

Secondly, I have a son, so these things feel more pressing than ever. I wanted to make sure to share this special day with him, and to try and teach him a little about why Earth Day is so important. A little more on that later.

Finally, I have a bit of personal history and memories from this day, and for some reason, on this particular year, those memories, and the nostalgia for some of those times many years ago, were far more pronounced.

Also, perhaps as a side note, I had more material to work with for blog entries than in years past. Not sure if this was because I actively sought them out, or because there seems to be more material these days. But one way or another, there seemed to be a lot more material to work with this time around, and in addition, I had an assignment to write about Earth Day for the Guardian Liberty Voice.

So, yes, all of those things seemed to add up to a far more active Earth Day, and really, Earth Week (or Earth Day Week), than ever before, although that hardly seems like a bad thing. That is how this particular Earth Day seemed to grow into a huge event for me, and for "The Charbor Chronicles".

Frankly, I wanted to share these things with my son, so that he can gain his own memories of this day, a well as gain an understanding of why it is so important to be aware of these issues. Of course, he is still a child, and I wanted to keep it positive, and on a level that he can understand, and feel like he can make a positive difference.

This year, I tried to make Earth Day a big event, and asked him right off the bat what he learned about it in school. It was mentioned by the teacher, which is a positive sign. But nothing major.

Still, we went for a mild hike. It would have been nice to have done a tougher hike, especially since he thrives on the challenge of rock climbing, which is cool. But the weather was weird, starting off beautiful and sunny, then getting rainy (even heavy rain at times), followed by cooler temperatures and clear again, with the possibility of heavy rains and even hail possibly for later in the night. Perhaps the weather is indicative of the destabilizing impact of human activity.

It was nice and cool, almost perfect conditions for a hike, except for the slightly slick conditions due to the earlier rain. I tried to talk to him about Earth Day, and explained to him about the delicate web of life, how nothing ever truly dies, because life sustains life. I tried to talk to him, in understandable terms, about the detrimental impact of human activity, which he even seemed to grasp a bit, after pointing out some trash that was evident not far off the trail that we were traversing. I told him about my days with the Environmental Club at the high school and at Bergen Community College, and told him that we had once devoted a day to cleaning the roads of the litter, and gotten many bags full of trash cleared.

When he told me that he could probably karate chop a thin tree in half, I reminded him of what a young man who joined us for a hike a couple of weeks ago told us - to leave nothing but your footprints. Not new advice, but always good advice.

As we were walking, I remembered what I wrote about joining the BCC Environmental Club, and the impression back then, at a much younger age, that most of the people there were far more worldly and sophisticated, and privy to a certain level of understanding the nuances of environmentalism than I could ever hope to be. For a moment, I wondered about the strange path that life takes, how I got from there to here, walking with my son on this hike. Also, what were those people doing now? Where were they? Did they still celebrate Earth Day, too?

We got back to the parking lot after I nearly twisted my ankle - another unpleasant reminder of the toll that the years have taken. After years of hiking and playing tennis and basketball, I had twisted my ankle (never seemingly too seriously) enough that it had made my ankle weak. Sometimes, I will hike and, without even realize it, will nearly twist that ankle without expecting it. There is a fear that, someday, that ankle will twist much more severely, or perhaps even break. Perhaps it will be in the middle of a long hike, forcing me to hobble the rest of the way.

For now, I was able to feel it and take most of the weight off of it before it got serious. Still hurt, and I had to walk a little gingerly for a few minutes. But otherwise okay, for the most part. Okay enough to surprise my son once we actually got to the parking lot. He had insisted that he would get to the car first. Kind of a thing for him, to "win" by reaching the car, or whatever destination he chooses, first. Once we got to the lot, I snuck up behind him, and then ran to the car, watching him turn to me, his eyes widening in alarm as he watched what he assumed had been a sure victory slip from his grasp. He tried to discount it, saying in effect that I cheated, although that did not stop me from thrusting my arms up in victory, like I had just won Wimbledon, or the World Cup. It was a good laugh that we shared over that.

Then, we went to my parent's house, where we had some dinner. I wanted to show him the Angry Birds Earth Day level that was just released, and designed to promote environmental awareness. I promised him that we would make a point of planting a tree together for next year's Earth Day, and he was excited. Excited enough that he decided we would plant on on this day. He ate an apple - impatiently, I might add, rushing - and finally took some seeds. Not sure if it could work or not, we nonetheless went to the backyard and found a spot, dug a small hole, and placed the seeds there. I have my doubts that anything will grow, but the attempt and effort seemed most important.

Even if the effort to grow a tree for Earth Day on this particular year proved half-hearted, together we made every effort to make sure that this Earth Day meant something, that lessons were learned, and that we shall continue to try learning, together, for a very long time to come. That is the enduring memory that should come out of this particular Earth Day. And hey! There's no reason why we cannot plant a tree in the near future, even if the idea came rather absurdly late to me this time around on Earth Day. After all, is not every day Earth Day? Even if those seeds wind up being washed away, or do not take, the seeds planted regarding the significance of Earth Day specifically, and more generally about being a responsible caretaker of our blessed Mother Earth, have been planted in my son, and I will do my utmost to watch over these and take care of them, so that they might grow properly and, hopefully, become strong and self-sustaining some time in the future.

Later, I took him home and tucked him in bed, after he brushed his teeth and all of that, and read some of the fourth Percy Jackson book (we just finished the third one and started the fourth over the weekend).

A good Earth Day overall. Very different than the past Earth Days that I remembered, such as the first one in 1990, when it was unseasonably hot and sunny, to the point that I got a sunburn, as my family visited Jersey City to see the New Jersey Eagles (now defunct) and admire the New York skyline right across the river (then with the Twin Towers still standing). Very different also from those Earth Days at BCC, with concerts and poetry readings and food and responsibility.  Different also from more recent, and less active Earth Days.

Different, but memorable and special in it's own way, to be sure. An Earth Day that II shared with my son, for the future of this planet, on our small level.

My son posing for the camera, wearing a green shirt and my old BCC Environmental Club button during a break for our Earth Day hike in the woods - at Pyramid Mountain. 

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