For each generation, there are some defining moments in history that will never be forgotten.
My children will always have the sad events of September 11, 2001, etched in their memories. My peers and I remember where we were on November 22, 1963, when we heard the announcement that President Kennedy had been assassinated.
For my parents, a lasting memory was the declaration of World War II; my grandparents were deeply affected by the Wall Street crash that preceded the Great Depression.
But hopefully we all have memories of lighter, more uplifting days as well.
I remember the fervor and enthusiasm surrounding the first recognized Earth Day. It was April 22, 1970 — just as my adult life was beginning and my ideals were taking shape.
The 60s had been eye-opening in regard to the state of our planet. I believe the word “ecology” became widely used during that time. It was the birth phase of a movement that has continued to today.
And once again, it’s time to recognize Earth Day.
The brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson and inspired by the antiwar protests of the late 1960s, Earth Day was originally aimed at creating a mass environmental movement. It began as a "national teach-in on the environment" and was held on April 22 to maximize the number of students that could be reached on university campuses.
By raising public awareness of air and water pollution, Nelson hoped to bring environmental causes into the national spotlight.
The idea seems to have worked: environmental causes have been valued and supported for the past three decades. Whether we call it ecology, green living, or sustainability, it’s a way of life that’s important to many of us.
I was fortunate to grow up in a family that valued the earth and the outdoors. My earliest memories include camping and learning about nature. There were vegetables, berries, and fruit trees growing in our backyard. We recycled before I knew there was a word for it.
I was kind of primed for ecology and green living.
In 1970, I wasn’t a true hippie, but I was “hip” to green trends and swept up by the emphasis on preserving our planet. Though I didn’t partake in demonstrations, I tried to keep ecology in mind. My boyfriend, Jim, shared my interests, and we tried to do our part to “save the earth.”
By Earth Day 1974, Jim and I were young marrieds tearing up the backyard of our rented home (with the permission of the landlord, of course). The reason? To plant our first garden. I can’t put my hands on a photo right now, but I remember the tall cornstalks and the lush bushes of peas and beans. Were we ever proud!
Since then we’ve had lots of gardens, of lots of kinds and sizes, in lots of places and a few different climate zones. In 1986, we got our start raising livestock with three Black Angus beef cows. Growing food, cooking from scratch, and preserving summer produce became our favored way of living. Composting, recycling, reusing, and repurposing are natural companions.
We’ve had some detours, including years in a foreign culture where we were unable to do as much “green living” as we’d have liked. But now we’re back on track, trying to decrease the footprints we leave on this earth. As we use natural resources, we try to replace and replenish in return. We’ve encouraged our kids - and are now teaching our grandchildren - to treat the earth with respect.
We think it’s more important now than ever. And I know many of you agree.
That's why our lives celebrate Earth Day every day. Trying to stay close to nature, making wise decisions, living sustainably. It's better for us - and better for the earth we live on.
During my “granola years” as a young mom and even recently as a farming grandma, I’ve been called Earth Mother more than a few times.
But you know what? I don’t mind at all! And I bet you wouldn't mind either. Unless, of course, Earth Father would be more appropriate!
Marie and her husband, Jim, are developing a farm in the Pacific Northwest with their adult children and grandchildren. At The Homesteader Kitchen Marie and her daughter review kitchen equipment and talk about preparing and preserving delicious food. Along with other family members, Marie shares glimpses of country life at Rural Living Today and teaches practical skills at The Homesteader School.