Monday, April 20, 2015

Six ways to celebrate Earth Day

With Earth Day just two days away, I’ve been thinking about how to celebrate. While planting a tree is a traditional and excellent way to commemorate the holiday, not everyone is in a position to add plants to the landscape. Therefore, I offer six suggestions — six no-cost, easy ways anyone can participate in the celebration.

Start the day by going outside to watch the sunrise. On Wednesday, April 22, the sun rises in Central Florida at 6:54 a.m. It’s the time of day when most of us are either still snug in our beds or busy getting ready for work, making breakfast or preparing the kids for school. On Earth Day, however, take a break from that hectic routine. Brush the sleep from your eyes, and treat yourself to a morning sky show. Welcome the day with a silent salute to the sun — the giant star that gives our planet life.

Before going back inside, pause for a minute to listen to birdsongs.

There are 510 birds on the Florida state checklist, and many will lend their voice to the morning serenade. Listen for the uplifting lilt of cardinals, Carolina wrens, bluebirds, chickadees and mockingbirds as well as the less melodious calls of bluejays, redwing blackbirds and crows. 

Savor the sound of the birds around us. In addition to being beautiful to look at and lovely to listen to, birds are an important part of the ecosystem. They disperse seeds, act as pollinators and help to keep insect populations under control. Take a few moments out of your day to appreciate one of earth’s most exquisite gifts. Spare a few moments for the birds.

As the day progresses, many of us will find ourselves inside buildings. We’ll be on our computers, at work, school or our homes. We’ll be doing tasks that let us forget there’s a day out there with wind and rain and sun and shadows. On Earth Day — at least for a little while — turn off the air conditioner and open the windows. Listen to the breeze whisper as you go about your business. Let the movement of air act as a reminder that life is not always the perfect temperature. In a world so well insulated from the wild, it’s important to occasionally be grounded — to feel the heat or cold or wind or wetness. To be reminded that we are a part of the rest of nature’s creatures.

It’s likely that sometime during Earth Day, most of us will be getting in or out of our cars. Unfortunately, wherever it is we’re going, there’s bound to be litter. Take a moment on this special day to pick up some trash. It doesn’t have to be more than just one or two items — a plastic bag blowing through the parking lot, dropped paper, an empty bottle or can. Whatever it is, instead of walking by with eyes conditioned to ignore other peoples’ messes, make an effort to see what’s there and clean it up. Do it for Mother Nature. Consider it a gesture of kindness to the earth.

Before it gets dark, pick up a pair of scissors or a garden clipper if you have one and pick a bouquet of flowers. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a garden. In the middle of April, there are flowers everywhere. You might have to walk a little farther but the extra steps will be worth the effort. Clip off a magnolia bloom and bring it inside to let its perfume fill the room. Even weeds can be beautiful when put on display. Snip off wildflowers growing by the wayside or the blooms of lilies, irises and daisies. Gather a posy of roses, and bring the outdoors inside.

One final way to celebrate Earth Day starts much as the day began — with the sun. It sets at 7:55 p.m. Go outside again, and watch the sky. Marvel at the transition of colors, patterns and shades of light and dark. Look up and notice stars beginning to twinkle. From sunrise to sunset, absorb the enormity of the entire day.

Earth Day is celebrated once a year, yet the existence of every day is cause for celebration. We only have one earth. Each person only has one life. At the very least, take a moment to appreciate the gift of living on this amazing planet.

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