My eyes water. My throat feels scratchy. My lungs burn.
People say I’m doomed; that I, Mother Earth, will never recover. I worry that they could be right.
The wind stirs my grasses. I watch.
A family heads out for a day at the park. I see how they’re enjoying spending time with me. Their moods improve, they breathe easier, and they smile more. Perhaps they value me. I feel a shred of hope.
Grandchildren and grandparents head to a lake, choose rocks, and skip stones. They in-vestigate a beaver dam. The children enjoy damming up a stream of their own and playing in the water. When they decide to take a hike, they carry bags and make a fun game of seeing who can pick up the most litter. My spirits lift.
School children plant a tree near their playground. They tend a school garden and watch as the bean seeds they planted spring up out of the soil. One boy discovers treasures: rocks that sparkle in the sunlight and a seed pod that he can split open. He investigates a trail of ants trying to figure out where they’re heading. A girl discovers a muddy patch where a grasshopper left scratch-like prints and giggles when a bristly caterpillar crawls over her finger. The teacher helps them see they’re a part of nature, with a duty to preserve these wonders. As they work the soil, they realize they belong to the earth, that they’re one with the plants that grow, a part of the cir-cle of life. Their commitment energizes me.
I watch two teenagers at Devil’s Lake State Park pocket their phones and set off on a hike. They climb the rocks and once they’re at the summit, they sing and perform a dance. I join in.
They scramble down. One of the girls heads off by herself to a marshy area to take photos of the blooming purple and yellow wild iris. She stays a long time. Is she wondering how it feels to be a bulb underground, to experience those first drops of rain, to begin to sprout, then to reach for the sun? I hope so.
Trees sway, the wind picks up, and I switch my view to a shopper bringing grocery bags into the store and choosing locally grown produce. I nod.
I keep watching. A man holds two packages, studies them, and then chooses the one in recyclable packaging. I let out a long sigh.
A mom passes up the bottled water and allows her son to pick out a colorful water bottle instead. “This will be yours to use when we go places,” she says.
I lean in and listen. Her young son answers, “Because we don’t want to waste our re-sources, right, Mom?”
Simple changes, but they make a difference.
I hear people speaking up for me. An advocate fights for mass transportation. A com-muter chooses to form a carpool. Citizens vote their conscience. Elected officials act responsibly. The impact is powerful.
I keep scanning.
A light rain begins to fall, and I zero in on a girl in shiny red rubber boots and raincoat. She tilts her head back to catch the rain in her mouth. She splashes in puddles and squeals with
delight. She watches a robin hunt for worms. She studies the patterns and shadows of the leaves and grasses. When her mom calls to her that it’s time to come inside, she begs to play outside longer. Her mom grants her wish.
I breathe in and out and our breaths match. She and I are in this world together. In the cleansing wind and sweet rain, I keep watching her. She sees me as a gift. The future generation cares for me. I’m filled with hope that I’m going to be all right.