earth day

a lake reflecting pine trees, mountains, and a clear blue sky in Jasper National Park

It’s a deep breath, this time between the never ending impossible frost and the scorching oven. I inhale it deeply, and it makes me sneeze, the uncovered rotten leaves, the new pollen, the smell of wet dirt. The frozen air hurt my lungs and made me cough. The baking air will make me sweat. But now, now I can breathe (thank you, Claritin).

I am afraid of what is coming. How much of the land will burn this year? How many days will the weather be lovely but too smoky to play outside? We are not flooding, here, but others are. Others aren’t feeling the joyful relief of spring, but instead the dread of inexorable rising water.

Our planet will be okay. It’s a planet; we’re only here for a second. Sometimes it gets infected with a disease, and its immune system spikes a fever to make the environment inhospitable, so that the germs die and leave the body alone. So we’re being cooked out. We didn’t show ourselves to be symbiotic, though we think of ourselves that way. I like to say I’m a steward, as I mow my lawn and drive my minivan and worry about the state of things. I’m a parasite.

The rhetoric has taught me that this fever is my own fault, that I should have recycled more, driven less, used more cloth shopping bags. Is it, though? Those things are not great, but what about the mountains, heaps, acres of garbage and waste water and off-gassing and fossil fuels and energy used by business and government and large-scale operations? That’s the issue. If I say “I brought my own bag,” that will not stop the pipelines from breaking and the landfills from overflowing and the pollutants from rising.

Earth day: a day to remember how badly we’ve fucked it up. A day to remember that we’re germs. One day every day will be earth day, once the earth is rid of us.