Salut April, Salut Earth Month

April is finally here, and with all due respect to T.S. Eliot, it is not the cruelest month. Not by a long shot. In Maine, that honor goes to March, which, thank the weather gods, is behind us for another year.

For many reasons, April is one of my favorite months. The snow melts at a rate that can only be called astonishing. The sun is higher, the days are warmer, and Spring is definitely on its way. In April there is hope that at last Winter has released its bony grip on the land.

Another reason I love April is that our youngest daughter was born on April 22, and that day will always be a sweet day for me. (As will October 29, the birth of my eldest daughter.)

April 22 also happens to be Earth Day. As notes, “Each year, Earth Dayβ€”April 22β€”marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970….The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.”

I came of age during the 1970s, and I was profoundly affected by the environmental movement. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to state that it has made me the person I am. Along with my family and my writing, my concerns and focus as an adult have always been on the environment.

My teenage self—foolish in too many ways—was not wrong to be concerned about the environment. Forty-nine years later, that concern has been upgraded to alarm as the ravages of climate change become more and more obvious.

Earth Day has now been expanded to Earth Month, where all of April is set aside for celebrating our beautiful planet. Some people scoff, proclaiming such things are gimmicky. They note that every day should be Earth Day, and that we shouldn’t need special designations. Maybe so, but we humans have a yen for symbols and stories, and focused in the right direction, this is a good thing.

Earth Day and Earth Month turn our attention to something of vital importance—Earth, our only home. So bring on the stories, the celebrations, the attention. May they bloom into something more.

I’ll end with a picture of the beautiful Kennebec River, nearly free of ice the beginning of April. I’ve told the following story before, but it bears repeating as it is an example of what we humans can do when we put our minds to it.

In the 1960s, when I was a child, the Kennebec River was so dirty that no one even wanted to stick their big toe in it. There were no eagles, no ospreys, no birds of prey. Nobody sat by the Kennebec River to admire the teeming wildlife. Dank and foul smelling, it was a river to be avoided.

Then came the Clean Water Act of 1972, and slowly the river came back to life. No longer a dumping ground for chemicals and other foul things, the river became, well, clean. Eagles have made a comeback. Ospreys hunt for fish. In the spring, sturgeon jump. In Hallowell and other places, people come to this river to watch the sparkling water and the creatures who live in and by it.

So salut April, Earth Day, and Earth Month!


48 thoughts on “Salut April, Salut Earth Month”

  1. What a beautiful picture of the river.
    April has arrived here with sun and rain and hail… but I love it. The days are getting longer and the spring flowers were absolutely stunning on my walk today (of course I hadn’t taken a camera). Why everyone cannot appreciate the joys of the natural world I really don’t know, but even if the outdoors is not your thing, everyone wants oxygen and food to eat and we won’t have either of these if we don’t start to be more careful with this planet of ours.

  2. Your photo of the Kennebec is lovely! The blues of the skies reflect on the water. It looks clean; I hope it remains so

  3. A lovely post Laurie. Yesterday I travelled via mountains and even the snow filled mountains were looking so serene.

  4. Happy earth month! I’m glad things were cleaned up. I remember rivers catching fire (how weird is that?) and hope we never see that again.

  5. Lovely post. There have been some great strides in conservation here too. The bird called the kaka, that we now see every day where we live, was almost extinct, and thanks to Zealandia sanctuary, is now seen in many parts of Wellington.

    1. Thank you for introducing a bird I had never heard of. Always great to learn something new. Also, many, many thanks for telling me the heartening story about this birds. Wonderful to hear a happy ending.

  6. A very interesting post Laurie, my husband Paul is born on the 22nd April, and we didn’t know it was earth day, so we will remember this on his birthday.
    It is always such a relief/pleasure to see that a river has been cleaned up, but it seems we have to be vigilant. We’ll have a toast to that sentiment on his birthday!

  7. Looking good, Kennebec! It seems there’s a greater sense of urgency, though, this year, when we come to Earth Month . . . .

  8. Loved reading this and feel as you do about cleaning and protecting our earth and water supply. Silly humans have no understanding as I didn’t either for so many years. Of course in the early years, we had nothing so nothing went to waste. When we know better, we do better so there are no excuses now. We are responsible for what is being allowed to happen.
    I also have a daughter born in April. A Friday the 13th to be exact. πŸ˜‰ My lucky day. And when she married many years ago, it was on April 22 with the wedding in a park and reception in our yard. She gave tree seedlings to each guest to plant. She already had a full understanding and has worked diligently all her life to be of service to the land. She actually works for Energy Trust here. That was her dream job.

  9. Great post, Laurie – I, too, have seen progress. I NEVER saw a bald eagle growing up – ever. I still live in South Jersey, where I grew up, and they are around. I’ll see them several times a year from my yard and my mom see a nesting pair where she lives. It’s never too late to make a change for the better and those changes make a difference.

    1. We must keep the images of progress with us during these discouraging times. Same is true for me about the eagles. They were nearly extinct. And now, the eagles have rebounded, and I, too, see them frequently. Wonderful that you have them so close to where you live. And you are exactly right about changes making a difference. I would also add that it’s of vital importance for the government to be involved.

  10. And this year is Easter Monday too. Some folks say that we should observe Christ’s resurrection every day, not just on Easter. I doubt that they get the concept of Lent, or Advent, or the church calendar year, etc. either. Be mindful every day. Celebrate once per year. – Oscar

  11. Thanks for this post. With all the problems we face, it’s easy to forget all the progress that has been made in terms of clean air and water.

  12. A salute to the Earth! an important post, Laurie. To think we can return a river to health. What else could we do to clean up our Earth, if we humans got our act together?

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