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?