The beauty of the Earth

I know some people don’t like the Earth Day celebrations, because they seem designed to make people feel guilty for not being environmentally sensitive enough, they play on fears of possible ecological catastrophe, and – at least according to some conservative Christians – they amount to worshipping the creation rather than the Creator. I’ve never gotten involved in any Earth Day celebrations myself, as best as I can remember. (Though there was that time our Brownie troop helped clean up a local park – for all I know that was Earth Day-related.)

But I do love the beauty of nature, and today seems a great day for celebrating it. From watching birds in my yard (one pair of small birds has assembled a rather messy nest on top of the light outside the back door, which may or may not be connected to the fact the light is not currently working) to admiring the vastness of the sky (equally impressive by day or by night), I enjoy seeing nature on a daily basis.

I try to take pictures of the stunning beauty I see, but they never do it justice. The splendor of the ice-sheathed trees after an ice storm, the late afternoon sun giving that warm reddish light to the tips of trees, the vivid colors of butterflies and dragonflies – I can see them in a photograph but only as a muted echo of what I remember seeing. Still, those pictures remind me of what I did see, including in some far away places.

I watch the sun set off the western coast of Spain, and watched it rise while sitting on a beach in the Bahamas. (I also watched the moon rise over the Mediterranean, and wished I had my camera with me.) I not only saw but heard and smelled and felt the waves crashing on rocks somewhere on the coast of Portugal (I didn’t get soaked, but you couldn’t stand near the rocks and stay dry). I hiked with my father to the peak of Mt. Katahdin, at the northern end of the Appalachian Trail, and looked out over the vast expanse of Acadia National Park.  

Some places I have “visited” only through the marvel of IMAX movies. Coral reefs, rain forests, even the stark barrenness of the moon (OK, that’s not on Earth, but we don’t celebrate a Moon Day). Someday I would like to see Yosemite National Park, and the redwood forests in California. I doubt I’ll ever travel to Africa or India, but I would love to see Victoria Falls (in Zambia) or the Valley of Flowers in India, among other places suggested as the most beautiful places on Earth.

What places of greatest natural beauty have you visited? What others would you like to visit?

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7 Responses to The beauty of the Earth

  1. Chas says:

    Flying over Greenland is beautiful. but it’s best seen from an airplane. From the ground, it’s awful.
    Same for the mountains of Pakistan.

    Not natural beauty, as such, but Charleston, SC in the springtime is beautiful, with it’a azaleas and other flowers. If in the area, visit Summerville.

  2. Chas says:

    The acutal beautiful places in the world are endless. I just like such mundane things as a sunrise at Myrtle Beach. The sunset over Lake Tahoe was supposed to be special, but it was nothing better than others I’ve seen. I did learn not to look directly at the setting sun at 6,000 ft elevation. The atmosphere doesn’t protect you as much there.

  3. Steve says:

    The mossiness and age of the Adirondacks. The curves of West Virginia. White Sands, NM. The damp splendor of Seattle.

    The Rockies, as viewed from a plane, by car, and on foot.

    The coolness of a Maine ocean in July, and the tiny splendor of tidal pools.

    Niagara Falls during off season.

    And in my own front yard: deer, hawks, geese, and fox.

  4. Pauline says:

    Chas,
    I don’t know when I’m likely to get to Charleston in springtime, but my husband has talked about going to visit his sister Barnwell, SC sometime, once he finally has earned some vacation days. Of course, with his allergies, he probably wouldn’t want to go to anyplace full of flowers. He’d love for us to be able to move to that part of the country if he didn’t think he’d be miserable the whole time from his allergies.

  5. Chas says:

    I’ve never been to Barnwell, but I suspect it owes it’s existance to the Savannah River Nuclear Plant. It’s in south central S.C. and not near any interstate system. There are lots of pretty little towns in SC. But if you have allergies to pine, you could have trouble. Lots of pine forests in the area.

  6. Margaret Packard says:

    I remember when I went to Bavaria in Germany in 1975. Our bus didn’t arrive until well after dark. The next morning I was following the directions I had been given to get from the home where I was staying to the Goetheinstitut for classes. I was walking along, when I happened to glance to my left, and there was this beautiful mountain not all that far away. I was just stunned by it.

  7. mmacmurray says:

    When my husband was attending medical school in Burlington, Vt., we would make the drive from Vermont back to Maine once a month or so to see his mom and/or my folks. It usually took us forever to get the car packed and get on the road after Friday classes, so it often was evening before we actually left Burlington for the 5-hour drive. I remember one winter day in particular, with the late afternoon sun setting over Lake Champlain to the west, a full moon rising over Mt. Mansfield to the east, and the setting sun gilding Camel’s Hump to the southwest.

    Acadia National Park seen from the top of Mt. Champlain. Huge waves crashing against Otter Cliffs on a bright February day after a storm.

    A walk along the shore of a small loch in the half-light of a midsummer night in the Scottish Highlands.

    God’s creation is glorious, yet a dim reflection of his own glory.

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