Journey 112: Earth Day

April 22 each year marks the celebration of Earth Day. Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after he witnessed the ravages of the massive 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA. At a time when awareness was shifting away from war, Nelson’s idea was to turn the energy of the anti-war movement toward the environment, and care for the earth.

Earth Day 1970 brought people together, eliciting support from Republicans and Democrats, the wealthy and the poor, city dwellers and farmers, business owners and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

Today Earth Day still unites people and companies from around the Globe with a continued emphasis on caring for the earth, the environment, and the animals across all species. Earth Day 2015 put out the intention of seeing a billion seeds and trees planted, to give back in a way that will have a long term impact on the environment, in a positive, powerful way.

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I am, as I have mentioned in previous posts, very connected to the earth and to growing things. I have felt a responsibility for maintaining and preserving this beautiful planet since early childhood. Yes, it’s my temporary home. However, it’s where we all learn and grow, realize our gifts and abilities and share them. If we don’t care for this amazing place, who will? We are the caretakers of the earth and of the animal life here and of each other, because caring for human life is just as important, just as crucial.

I take my role seriously, in myriad small ways: conserving energy, being mindful of the environment and teaching my children and grandchildren to be mindful as well, respecting ALL life, encouraging and supporting organizations and companies who are aware of our great charge as well, to care for the earth. And, I plant a variety of plants and trees.

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Today I grabbed a few minutes between appointments to fulfill that desire to plant and tend growing things, working in my backyard, planting new plants, raking and admiring the return of last year’s plants. What a joy to be outside. And how mindful I was of the day and how thoughtful about ways I can better show care for this marvelous place I call home.

I was reminded of a phrase in the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics, that always touches me deeply: “Under all is the land.” Such a simple statement, yet such a powerful truth. Beneath all that is, the buildings, the cities, the jungles, the opinions, the ideas, the beliefs, the feet of animals and humans…beneath me…is the land. The foundation. The sustainer and cradler of life here on earth. The land. The earth. I will do my part to take care of it, not from a sense of duty, but from a sense of love and joy. Happy Earth Day.

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Day 112: Springfield Botanical Gardens

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Today was a gorgeous spring day. After sales meeting this morning, and taking care of a contract, it felt like the perfect day to be outdoors. I had heard there was a Redbud Tree Garden and a Japanese Garden in Springfield, MO. For my first today, Greg and I drove to that nearby city to check out the gardens. It was only after I was underway that I remembered today was Earth Day! What an ideal way to appreciate the beauty of my world.

The botanical gardens were easy to find. I appreciated that Greg googled the location before we left Joplin. My first surprise was how large and varied the gardens are! There are 114 acres of gardens and grounds that include the Botanical Center, a Butterfly House, a Farmstead, a small lake surrounded by a walking trail, and many different types of gardens to stroll through. We started in the Center to pick up a map and info about the grounds and then headed to the Japanese Garden. As my backyard is being transformed, I want a meditation garden in one corner, with strong Japanese influences. I was excited to see this garden so I could get ideas. Sadly, that was my next surprise…the Japanese Gardens are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays! We peeked over the fence. It looks like a lovely, serene place to stroll and reflect. I will definitely go back to check out this space.

There were so many other gardens to explore that I was not disappointed about the locked gate at the entrance to the Japanese Garden. We strolled instead through the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden. This space includes a perennial border, themed herb beds, and a kitchen garden. The winding pathways made of mulch inspired me to create similar paths in my own garden.

Next we walked along a trail that meandered past the Redbud Garden, which was established in 2011, and the Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House. The Butterfly House opens in May. I have always wanted to go into such a place! I will be visiting this enclosed structure, where a variety of native butterflies move through their life cycles before being released in September. The path then wound through individual gardens housing lilies, irises, roses, peonies, and wildflowers. The plants are just pushing up through the ground. It will be interesting to return several times this year to see how the gardens change with the seasons. I am especially intrigued by the ornamental grasses garden, as I want to include a variety of grasses in my backyard sanctuary.

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The path joined the walking trail that surrounds the lake. We found a bench near the water to rest on and watched the Canadian Geese float by. The water was like glass, disturbed only by the passing geese. It was such a peaceful and beautiful spot to be still in and enjoy nature. There are many other gardens to explore that we saved for another visit. I want to check out the White Garden, the Hosta Garden and the English and Summer Gardens. A new sensory garden is being developed that sounds promising as well, and of course, I can’t wait to stroll through the Japanese Garden which covers 7.5 acres.

This was a delightful first and gave me wonderful ideas for smaller scale projects for my own garden. As we were leaving, we met Frank, a volunteer at the Center, who chatted with us and shared his amazing gardening website. Meeting and connecting with new people has been an unexpected and wonderful perk that has accompanied many of my firsts. I assured Frank, and promised myself, that I would return soon. And I will!

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