Earth Day Is A Time For Nature
April 22, 2013

Earth Day Is A Time For Nature

Today is Earth Day! This is one of the least celebrated holidays, yet also one of my favorites. I could write about much concerning Earth Day, but I would like to focus on just nature in general. This aspect of Earth Day is my favorite, the focus on nature.

I spend much of my time in nature. I hike, camp, fish, explore and just generally appreciate nature in all its glory. I have done these in the desert, the mountains, forests, rainforests, and plains. I have done so on two continents and in several countries. I have appreciated nature in the US, central America, UK, and central Europe, from the Pacific Northwest to south Texas and all states in between, Costa Rica, England, Scotland, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, and Hungary. And I’m not done yet.

Nature is one of the things we often forget to appreciate. Not only does nature provide us with oxygen, but it also gives much solace and peace. There is nothing like sleeping outside in the middle of nowhere with so many stars. I mean, really. When I camp in nature, I see so many stars that I hardly see the velvet black of night. It is incredible.

And then there is the flora and fauna that nature provides. I have seen animals and bugs and plants and trees and flowers that have made me cry in happiness and despair. I once watched an ant carry its dying brother or sister across a downed tree. I have also heard the playful song of coyotes in the middle of the night and even the scream of a mountain lion. I did not have to buy a nature album to do this. All I had to do was sleep in nature, put myself back where all humans first started.

Nature gives so much to our lives. And so often we take her for granted. We rape and pillage nature because we can. Sure, we say that we need what she has, but we often do not replace what we have taken. Now, of course, we try to replenish nature. We try to protect her, but as humans are wont to do, we fall short.

Or worse, we simply neglect her. Throngs and throngs of Americans have never walked in true nature. Sure, Central Park counts as natural, but I mean walking where the closest settlement is miles upon miles away. I mean hiking into a mountain and backpacking for days at a time or exploring a desert with the understanding that the sun and lack of water are very real, very serious concerns. Though many know of these experiences, still the majority of Americans likely have not experienced anything close to these.

That neglect of nature is just as damaging as any other activity, be it logging, fracking for oil, or simply cutting down trees for some other human use. Yes, the idiom not seeing the forest for the trees certainly has literal meaning when it comes to nature.

Still, we can also appreciate nature in less natural environments. Cities have been called concrete forests, but nature still manages to take hold. I have been in the middle of a large city and watched a skunk cross a road or an owl swoop in the neighborhood back yards. I have seen natural creeks or even small rivers flow through a bustling metropolis. And the gardens and flora somehow do their thing even with concrete.

So this Earth Day, plant some flowers or a tree or a garden, but also appreciate Nature. Take time to feel the wind caress your face, smell the spring in the air, listen to the trickle of that creek water or the pounding of the spring thunderstorm, watch the birds in the yard. Nature is all around us even if we are in cities. We must not forget that. Earth Day is a day to celebrate all things Earth, so take a minute to celebrate Nature.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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