By Cathi Gerhard
Author Margaret Atwood once said that we should smell like dirt at the end of a spring day. When I was a young child, my parents nicknamed me “Pig Pen” after the character from the Charlie Brown comics. Not only did I come home filthy from a long day playing outside on our farm, but they often saw me sitting in the middle of the lane throwing handfuls of dirt into the air – and laughing heartily as it rained down on me. I was just following a famous writer’s advice . . .
I have always loved the earth, the fields of my family farm, and big gardens. Nothing compares to the smell of freshly turned topsoil on a spring day. And yes, because I grew up with it, the smell of freshly-spread manure has a comforting scent to me. Dirt (and everything it contains to make life grow again each year) is precious to me. The birds are singing its praises this very day, as they wait for worms and bugs to make their way up to meet the sun again (and their circle of life fate in a robin’s belly).
Our heirloom vegetable seeds arrived last week, and it’s time to sow our own food. I will check my notebook from last season to make sure I rotate my planting beds properly. Nutrients in and out are the key to sustainable farming, and during my tenure as caretaker to this patch of earth, it is my responsibility to follow nature’s guidelines.
Sadly, much of the 20th century endured the pursuit of mankind’s greed and comfort, with palpable disregard to our planet’s ecosystem. We now understand much of the damage done to the earth, and many of us seek to change those wasteful ways.
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement, which led to the passage of the Clean Air, Water and Endangered Species Acts. Each year, more than 1 million people worldwide gather on April 22 to participate in green activities, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
The Billion Acts of Green campaign invites individuals and businesses to register the actions they are taking to help the environment. The next time you are outside, enjoying the moment, acknowledge your appreciation. And then think about what you can do to help, to get your hands dirty for the sake of the earth.