Beauty, in Oregon
Just a little note before I head off on a hike through the Kettle Moraine. The birds are singing, the frogs croaking, the sun shining and tomorrow is Earth Day. I’ll do my best to honor Mother Nature this weekend. I grew up in a part of the United States where environmental health frequently falls far from mind. As a child, my peers teased me for my love of the outdoors and nature and wildlife â€” all so totally “uncool.” And yet it is thanks to Gaylord Nelson, former Wisconsin governor and US senator, that our nation sets aside a day in late April to celebrate Mother Earth; that (despite current efforts otherwise) this country indeed has laws to protect air, water and land.
Give thanks to the Earth. Not only on Sunday, but every day. Everything we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. We are what we eat; we are everything we put into the Earth. I know you know all of this. I don’t mean to be preachy. And yet every day, all around me, I see how we humans blithely test the limits of our Earth â€” polluting, contaminating, taking and taking without giving back. I see it, I smell it, as I run through my family’s neighborhood, where little white lawn flags warn of pesticides recently sprayed (to make the grass green, to kill the summertime mosquitoes). I see the neighborhood runoff trickling through the backyard, through vegetable gardens, into a wide woods where deer and geese and ducks and coyotes roam. The frogs don’t croak as much as they used to. The trees are dying. I wonder: what’s in the tomatoes and onions and apples grown in these neighborhood yards?
But instead of dwelling on these concerns, I will leave you on Earth Day with a happy story. Last week, while searching through old computer files, I happened upon a series of photos I had nearly forgotten about. Six years ago, Jerry and I hiked the 79-mile North Umpqua Trail, which follows southern Oregon’s North Umpqua River from its start near Crater Lake. It took us more than a week to trace this mighty river from its beginnings, just a trickle, at Maidu Lake. You can read the whole story here. Or you can scroll down and simply admire the beauty of Mother Earth.
The start of the North Umpqua
Forest after fire
On the trail, with blisters
The river gains strength
Some day, we will travel with a collapsible kayak…
What an open shutter on a starry night will do