Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day, some history, some thoughts

I still remember that first Earth Day, and how I was sure that it would have a great impact on the way the world treated the earth. I was an idealistic kid.
Now I am and idealistic  senior citizen,  having spent the intervening 44 Earth Days, wondering how much worse things would  be if there  had not been that first Earth Day.  If, gentle reader , you detect a bot of pessimism,  you are right.   Living gently on the earth is a goal, and a gift to those who come after us.

How the First Earth Day Came About
By Senator Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day

What was the purpose of Earth Day? How did it start? These are the questions I am most frequently asked.

Actually, the idea for Earth Day evolved over a period of seven years starting in 1962. For several years, it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country. Finally, in November 1962, an idea occurred to me that was, I thought, a virtual cinch to put the environment into the political "limelight" once and for all. The idea was to persuade President Kennedy to give visibility to this issue by going on a national conservation tour. I flew to Washington to discuss the proposal with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who liked the idea. So did the President. The President began his five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September 1963. For many reasons the tour did not succeed in putting the issue onto the national political agenda. However, it was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day.

I continued to speak on environmental issues to a variety of audiences in some twenty-five states. All across the country, evidence of environmental degradation was appearing everywhere, and everyone noticed except the political establishment. The environmental issue simply was not to be found on the nation's political agenda. The people were concerned, but the politicians were not.

After President Kennedy's tour, I still hoped for some idea that would thrust the environment into the political mainstream. Six years would pass before the idea that became Earth Day occurred to me while on a conservation speaking tour out West in the summer of 1969. At the time, anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, called "teach-ins," had spread to college campuses all across the nation. Suddenly, the idea occurred to me - why not organize a huge grassroots protest over what was happening to our environment?

I was satisfied that if we could tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force this issue onto the political agenda. It was a big gamble, but worth a try.

At a conference in Seattle in September 1969, I announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment and invited everyone to participate. The wire services carried the story from coast to coast. The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air - and they did so with spectacular exuberance. For the next four months, two members of my Senate staff, Linda Billings and John Heritage, managed Earth Day affairs out of my Senate office.

Five months before Earth Day, on Sunday, November 30, 1969, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the astonishing proliferation of environmental events:

"Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation's campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam...a national day of observance of environmental problems...is being planned for next spring...when a nationwide environmental 'teach-in'...coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned...."

It was obvious that we were headed for a spectacular success on Earth Day. It was also obvious that grassroots activities had ballooned beyond the capacity of my U.S. Senate office staff to keep up with the telephone calls, paper work, inquiries, etc. In mid-January, three months before Earth Day, John Gardner, Founder of Common Cause, provided temporary space for a Washington, D.C. headquarters. I staffed the office with college students and selected Denis Hayes as coordinator of activities.

Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter! HO! HO! HO!

Happy Easter! , dear readers!

Spring is late, but I didn't have to tell you that.  In fact it is so late, so  late that there seem to be much more like  the approach of  Christmas  I, myself bought enough Santa themed ornaments to decorate a tree, at a price close to giveaway, at a sale recently, they were selling fast, and I think that the snow on the ground might have had something to do with that.  I do love a bargain.  And I love Easter.

Easter, the Easter season even if one is not Christian, holds the promise of renewal and the gift of hope. Dear readers, my wish for you is the promise of renewal, in the greening grass and sprouting leaves. The gift of hope,  that is the light is a someones eyes.  And the blessing of peace in your heart.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"It' been a long time since that Easter Snowstorm, Ivy."

Ivy and Greta waved as Pauline drove off. The first time Greta had been away from home, far away from home. Ivy was the only Grandma that Greta had  ever known.   Ivy stretched out her arm and wrapped Greta in the fabric of her wool cape, and when the dark green SUV had disappeared  at the end of the street, instead of going into the house Ivy said, "Lets go over to the railing and then we can see Mom again for a few more seconds , right down there by that big red brick building."  They both stood quietly as they watched the SUV travel through farmland and disappear into the trees on it's way out of town. 'Common let's go inside and get out of these silly dress clothes and get warmed up." She gently hugged Greta as the two walked inside.

Ivy was excited and filled with trepidations at the same time, not exactly sure what to do next.  the girls sat on the sofa and watched the snow fall. Ivy jokingly said "I think we should be listening to Christmas music instead of  talking about Easter."  Gretta broke into a broad smile, "could we, could we listen to Christmas music?"  "Of course!" Ivy replied.  As they settled on the sofa,  and began stringing the brightly colored plastic eggs that sat by her chair, onto to a cord.  Gretta and Mr. Chips sang along with the carols.  

After that week Greta went to live with her other grandma, her biological grandmother.  They exchanged, cards letters, photos, phone calls and confidences, always keeping in touch. Ivy was excited and worried about how it would be to have her under her roof again. Sweet shy Greta was almost grown now, and Ivy was no longer the introverted new widow,
Ivy kept reminding herself that she was worrying for nothing.  But she worried anyway.  "It's been a long time since that Easter snowstorm, Ivy, don't expect too much." she told herself as she straightened the mirror.  "Not bad for an old girl, not bad." she murmured.  Her eyes darted around the room, everything was in place, just like it was, only better, she hoped Greta would remember how it looked when she visited last, but much more than that she hoped the years hadn't change either of them too much.

ivy kept herself busy with the kind of little chores one does when one is waiting, and  stopped to put out water for Millie and Skye after she saw them racing around the yard, back and forth over the bridge to Gus's house and back.  Then shes settled down with a big mug of fresh coffee, to watch them playing  like puppies in the sunshine.  The late afternoon no longer cast rainbows sparkled on the prisms in the windows, but it no longer cast rainbows around her kitchen, it may be as cold a February, but it was still the month of April.   The school bus passed by, no one got off at the corner as someone usually did, and as he usually did Skye immediately rocketed off down the sidewalk and disappeared, leaving Millie to race around the yard by herself.  Ivy absentmindedly began to put fresh eggs into the salted water, her thoughts rambled across the fields, and the years.  While the eggs boiled merrily on the stove, ivy  smile to herself about the egg hunts, and mishaps that ruined Easter outfits, the big family gatherings that she stressed about, but almost always enjoyed.  The timer on the stove buzzed, interrupting her thoughts, she turned off the stove, and  then went to cover Mr Chips' cage.  "Well tomorrow in the big day,  Greta will be here tomorrow, do you have a happy song for her?  Oh I hope everything goes OK." As she spread the cover over his cage saying "Goodnight my little friend."

Ivy retrieved the eggs from the pan and placed them gently into the cups of home made coloring on the counter by the sink.  The sun was near the horizon, the lights were coming on,  taking the eggs out of the cups of coloring, she put them on a plate to dry and put more eggs into the dye.  And then arranged a nest of green plastic Easter grass on the table, Once more she walked to the sink and looking out the window whispered "Safe travels, granddaughter, safe travels."   So lost in thought she never noticed the car in the driveway, as she collected her shawl and lantern and headed for the stair, she heard a knock at the door. 

"I wanted to surprise you, I wanted to go up to the attic and wave with you."  The lovely young woman said.  Stunned, happy, excited and a bit flustered,  "Come in, come in, leave your jacket on, I was just going up." As they climbed  the narrow stair, they were both smiling to hard to even speak, they reached the attic and Ivy broke the silence saying "You can sit in my chair", "nope, can't do that, I'm gonna sit on the little bench, like last time, don't want to ruin this, it's like magic being here again."



Sunday, April 13, 2014

April Moon

The moon in the sky at mid-day is one of my favorite sights.  It has always been a wonder to me, I find it hard to look away, and I want to stay and watch it. 

Aprils full moon is often called the full Pink Moon, or even the Yellow Moon, perhaps these manes come from the misty atmospheric conditions at this time of year. I don't know.  Other names on the list are the Ashes Moon, perhaps for the trees, but to me more likely for the amount of ashes that have accumulated from the hearth fire over the winter, and this year were very useful as anti skid on the patches of ice that remained too long.  The tress have finally begun to bud out, hence the Budding Moon, and I did see a few rabbits, The Hare Moon, though Hare is a European term, the first day of fishing season, thus the Fishing Moon, though more likely the ice has finally melted on the ponds and lakes, the water is warming up and it is easier to catch the more active and hungry fish.  I wonder if Bullhead Moon refers to the fish or the attitude of those who have had to wait too long to get back into their gardening routine this year.   The Egg Moon, the Tulip Moon, The Grass Greening Moon, The Wind Moon, The Maple Sugar Moon, are all pretty self explanatory. The White Lady Moon, what a beautiful name, refers to Beltane, and that the Goddess is mirrored not only by the moon, but by  white flowers.
Willow moon, the willows are among the first trees to green up, and I can recall making willow whistles with my Dad, that was a big treat.   Frog moon, the sound of  a chorus spring peepers, a tiny frog, means spring to me and last evening as I finished raking a section of the yard, I paused to listen to them,  what magical voices.

The Moon when Nothing Happens...truly sounds odd, one possible meaning is that some people fear the Blood Moon is a sign of impending doom, but there have been many Blood Moons and so far, nothing has happened, could be the origin of this odd name.

Of all of the name on the list of full moon names that were sent to me , my favorite  for this month by far was the  Broken Snowshoe Moon...yes break those snowshoes, those broken down snowshoes... use them for kindling the bonfires of Spring....we surely do deserve some warm weather.

 Vega Star Carpenter

And here we all be under the Wind Moon, so I thought it might be appropriate to celebrate with prayer flags. Homemade prayer flags, with homemade prayers, a prayer can  be as simple as the word,  like HOPE, drawn on a cloth square with magic marker or a complex as you want them to be.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April 11th is Eight Track Tape Day

Return with me now to those glorious days of yesteryear, when people still rolled  down the windows in their vehicles for ventilation, when both men and women wore platform shoes, and had big hair.  Disco ruled, I will never understand that, especially all that, sweaty almost bullet proof polyester.   A time when recycling meant making things out of milk cartons and tin cans, I still have several pencil holders made from Spaghetti'Os cans, most don't even have pencils in them,  would feel so guilty if I tossed them out though.

However I did toss out my eight tracks....all except for a few that I found in a very snazzy, shinny case, made specifically for eight track tapes.  And they were grabbed up at my last yard sale.  The tapes were big and bulky, jammed easily, had very poor sound quality, but you could listen to them in your car or truck as you cruised around on a warm summer night with the windows rolled down.   And it might have been more than a little difficult to get them into and or out of the tape deck, sometimes the case came out and the tape, which was a continuous loop stayed in there wrapped numerous times around just about everything.   Still it was exhilarating to turn up the speakers and roll down the windows, cruise along, listening to Fleetwood Mac, Boston, McKendree Spring, yeah whoever..it was a new kind of freedom.   Listening to your favorite tunes, no commercials, and no DJs. Listening to the music you like, and only that music as you drove along, though by current levels of technology that doesn't sound like much, it was alot then.   Some  cars even came with a factory installed  Eight Track player.   It would seem that these fragile and pioneering plastic wonders would really be in demand by collectors. Certainly those that didn't get warped by being left on the dashboard, or tangled up inside the workings of the tape deck, or just tossed out the window by a frustrated user, would be rare items. Perhaps they are rare items, but they are not , except for a few ,  of any value.    In those days we lived nearer to town and it was not unusual to find tapes in our yard of Saturday or Sunday mornings.  Some of them still worked.  Free tunes!!!  But that was then.

Did you know that the  Eight Track was invented by William Lear, yes the same guy invented the Learjet.   Both symbols of their time. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

snail haiku

climb it and learn, old
 moss covered stone with footholds,
 new stone slick with rain