Janet Sheridan: For Earth Day
The earth, bountiful and generous, enriches us with…
… the sound and movement of water. Rivers flow, gurgle, cascade and plunge. Springs seep, burble and gush. Lakes beckon us, welcome us, provide us with both the noisy fun of liquid playgrounds and the quiet beauty of murmuring moments of solitude. Rain sprinkles, falls, pours, and makes the earth smell young again; while oceans offer us cresting waves, shifting sands, swirling pools, swooping birds and winds that carry the salty smell of brine.
…the grandeur of mountains. Our spirits rise in response to massive rock formations, swaths of aspen and pine, peaks pushed against the sky and canyons self-darkened by depth. We ski mountain slopes, trek their paths, camp in their meadows, fish in their streams and climb their heights. Those of us who live in mountain valleys rely on their presence, use them as our compass, watch storms marshal over them and wait for the sun to rise and sink behind their bulk.
…differing climates, seasons and day-to-day weather, topics of universal interest we can talk about with anybody who wanders near. When we travel to climates different from ours, we describe them at length upon our return, whether asked about them or not. As we watch the seasons advance and retreat, we discuss their estimated dates of arrival and departure, recite their pleasures and complain about their hardships. And daily, when working, participating in activities, meeting one another at the grocery store or deciding what shoes to wear, we talk about the weather.
…trees of strength and persistence. We log trees for lumber, clear them for crops, chop them for firewood, cut them for decoration and start fires that burn them by the score; yet still they grow. Whether planted or self-seeded, they increase in stature and spread to provide shade, entertain children, shelter birds and grace our homes and landscapes. We enjoy evergreen trees with their unchanging, impeccable appearance and delight in deciduous trees as they withstand the cold barrenness of winter, burst into the giddy greens of spring and toss celebratory leaves of red, yellow and gold during fall festivals of good-bye.
…the solitude of deserts. Our souls expand when we look across a desert’s wind-swept swells and bluffs to distant stiff-ridged mountains and see no sign of human habitation. In the quiet of a desert, we can hear ourselves breathe. Exploring arid regions of red sandstone carved into arches, goblins and pillars, we marvel at the power of water, wind and sand. Driving across deserts, we name the cactus we recognize — saguaro, prickly pear, cholla — and when the hour grows late and the road long, we travel beneath a near night sky of brilliant stars unimpeded by city lights.
…daily skies of beauty and interest. Unpredictable clouds scuttle, float and cluster, puff into billows, and stretch long and thin. Unlike the frolicking clouds that sometimes surround it, the sun moves at a dignified, predictable pace and follows an expected path; but it, too, becomes whimsical when announcing its rising or setting with intense streaks of scarlet, a veil of gauzy pink or a sky of ruby melting into indigo. Then, in the black velvet sky of night, the moon changes its shape, flirts from behind streaming clouds and moves through a splendor of constellations, planets and stars.
The earth, bountiful and generous, enriches us.
Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at http://www.auntbeulah.com on the 1st and 15th of every month.
I spent this past Saturday morning preparing for Sunday’s lunch branding — at least what I could get done early. I cooked pasta and boiled eggs. I made a gelatin salad. I decided to bake a banana cake, a family favorite, for dessert.