Very late in the morning on Thursday I looked up at the night sky, swaying to some good tunes with a beer in my hand, friend Jonny by my side when I saw two shooting stars. The first was bright orange and fell from the dark night like an ember from a campfire; slow in both its freefall and its fading. The second was a minute or so later, yellow- almost white- streaming across the night sky as fast as possible- running away from any witnesses I would call. It is not so often one would see a shooting star in Connecticut, the sky is polluted with industrial lights, domestic lights, and well… pollution (according to my semi-educated guess thanks to my addiction to National Geographic telelvision). I ran inside to my phone to look up if something had been going on. This weekend was the Lyrid Meteor Shower. A few days early, I called it as a prequel to the show, but it gave me an infectious itch for more of nature; nature is all I wanted from that moment on. I sat and I waited, but no more shooting stars graced me with their presence.
I sincerely thought Earth Day 2012 was on Friday. I mass texted my small group of good friends exclaiming my impatience to plant something, to be active, to “go green” and maybe stay that way from there on out.
Now, I had read a decent amount of articles; newspapers, Twitter, Yahoo! News, television commercials, etc., and come to think about it, they all made it extremely clear what date Earth Day actually fell on.
So it is Friday, the sun is shining despite contrary weather forecasts and the texts are flowing. My friend Chris is the first to respond, and he was at my house within 30 minutes.
“I want to plant a tree on Earth Day. It is part of my Life List!” I kept saying over and over, upping my annoying-factor one point with every increase in vocal pitch.
I was truly excited to buy a tree. I do not really know why I had presumed Home Depot would have all the answers, but I envisioned their garden center filled with young, homeless trees just waiting for me to come and save them from home goods wholesale hell. I was hyper at the illusion of saving just one of those baby trees; Maple trees, Dogwoods, Oaks, Pine.
I wanted to really do something worthwhile on Earth Day for the first time. The need was not to fulfill another Life List challenge, but to be with my best friends- digging in the dirt on a beautiful day- to put a tree down where another tree is uprooted somewhere in the world, helpless and at the mercy of big business.
All cynicism aside.
There was no euphoric, Twilight-esque meadow of trees waiting to be sold to Earth Day tree huggers like myself. I saw an array of cacti, hanging house plants, carnations, impatiens, daisies and what have you for front yard decor and a vast variety of shrubbery. Like a kid in a candy store without a dime, there I stood confused and on the borderline of a tantrum.
Perhaps my absence from Home Depot since the age of 5 when I was thrown in the backseat by mommy and daddy was the issue here.
Chris and I made do, we picked up three small blueberry plants (3 for $12!) and named them each, claiming our own and creating a beautiful yet equally strange attachment to the small fruity wonder.
Chris bought a gazebo (otherwise known as an overpriced backyard tent) for his patio and we left Home Depot to spend the next 2 hours trying to assemble the damned thing. Our reward? Beer. My friend Sean and boyfriend tagged along for the planting ceremony, as well as Chris’ neighbor who most likely came outside due to our incessant knack for swearing loudly and, well, the huge tent that was now apart of the shared backyard.
We maneuvered around Chris’ backyard trying to find the optimal spot for our blueberry babies. We laughed over everything, broke the 88 cent tulle and laughed some more.
Earth Day 2012 was Sunday, April 22nd. It rained and none of my friends were around. Did it matter? Of course not. After the shame of realizing that I had most likely looked unaware on every social media site was over, I found a bit of pride and accomplishment.
This may have been my first year really doing something active on (or around) Earth Day, but it hit me then that I loved getting my hands dirty; I loved smelling the trees, soaking in real, natural sunlight, staring up at the sky, making wishes on shooting stars.
I loved nature all of my life, but I was blinded by things, material things, and the unnecessary dramas of being young that make me feel today as if I had always taken it for granted. Perhaps it is just a part of growing up and realizing what is most important, and that is where we live; where you, me and future generations will all call home. Maybe my house does not have solar panels, and my car does not run on recycled grease, but I am happy with my small contribution.
My Earth Day was Friday, and it changed me for the long run.Happy Earth Day, every day.