One of my earliest memories with my Nana, who spent a lot of time caring for me in my youth, is her pointing out the Robin Red-Breast. “See, Larissa, when he comes back, you know it's spring.” So, each year when the snow and ice and gloom get to be too much to bear, even now, I look out for Mr. Robin.
Nature came to me in a small scope- raking leaves, helping plant flowers, catching earthworms, stomping in streams. It was these intimate experiences that parlayed into a much wider admiration and certainly adoration for the outdoors.
Now I have two kids of my own- and a small patch of earth for them to explore and call home. It is both heartening and terrifying. I wonder quite often what parts of this earth we will lose in their lifetime- what will I have to explain as “well, this USED to be…” it is a question too big and troubling to tackle most days. So, I just bring them outside. We collect rocks we find and talk about how they have arrived at that spot (Glaciers? ICE AGE!), take them to the creek (is it rushing today and muddy? Low and clear? Bone dry?). We also talk about the weather, animals we see, bugs, weeds and more. Even the news can play a part. We visited Puerto Rico about two years before Hurricanes Maria & Irma hit the small Isle of Enchantment. We talked about their weather patterns, why this might have happened, what was lost and what will have to be rebuilt.
These efforts may seem small or random at best- but they are not without an inherent lesson. Be an observer. Be present. Catch the light through the leaves in the trees and the raindrops glancing off your skin. What we hear, see, smell and feel today might not be here tomorrow. And you should NOTICE that. Bear witness to the changes around you because they matter.
What my children and your children and their children do or don’t do to protect what has sustained us in in their hands.
What we do to aid them in realizing their role in this web of life is entirely ours.
HAPPY EARTH DAY, Y’ALL!
Words by Larissa Nemeth Images by Cristina Byrne