Earth Day, 2013

April 22, 2013 § 1 Comment



I’d forgotten how beautiful the tulips and the cherry blossoms are in Washington Square Park. They’re even more beautiful than an upside down marmalade cat, or dark chocolate in tin foil leaning against a stack of novels.

Today was Earth Day and I walked in the early evening sunlight, the almost-full moon visible in the pale blue sky, remembering the first Earth Day in 1970—how my mother let me go to my first rally because it wasn’t an antiwar protest and she thought it was safe.

Over a million people showed up in New York that day. Mayor Lindsay stopped traffic on Fifth Avenue and lent Central Park to the Earth lovers. I don’t remember anything that was said, or even if I could hear it; just the feeling of standing there in my blue jeans, 15 years old, experiencing the first political emotion that came from my gut. I was against the war, but the war wasn’t real to me the way fouled rivers and dead animals were. I knew that, in the long run, it was a bigger story than the war.

Not that I would have believed that if I had a brother in Vietnam. But I didn’t. My brother, from whose lips I first heard the word “Vietnam,” when I was nine and had no idea our country was attempting a Colonial-style smackdown, was already dead. I was almost used to it after five years. I was worried about the Earth.

I still am. I’m not obsessing about the way I was this fall. It’s just there, the knowledge, the sadness. I don’t like thinking about the children except as they are now, healthy and loved and still oblivious. Jaden and Jack, Daniel, Hannah and Myles and William. Six inquisitive minds, six varieties of imagination, thoughtfulness, kindness. I hope they grow up as strong as these big tulips in the half-light of a Monday afternoon.

We went to Union Square earlier today, looking for what was supposed to be an Earth Day event. Nothing was there but the usual: the farmer’s market, street music, flowers, a couple of people sleeping. “It looks like Earth to me,” said Charles.” We bought four carrots and a rutabaga.

Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

–William Butler Yeats


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