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Monday, March 21, 2005 | Is it Earth Day yet? If it’s not, it should be. Every day should be Earth Day.
I get tickled when people talk about having to “save the Earth before it is too late.” What a condescending crock. The Earth doesn’t need people to save it. The Earth will always save itself. We have pushed her pretty far, used her up, damaged her, abused her, and if it gets to a point where she is fed up with us, she’ll just sneeze us off. We’ll be gone in a matter of weeks. She will find a way.
The Earth is not a perfect “thing,” or “organism,” or whatever. And she has been lucky, to have been placed just so with relation to her Sun, in distance and in the way he traces across her middle, back and forth between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
But she has made the absolute most of what she has been given. She is the classic bell curve, from the extremes of frozen poles at either end across the teeming subtropical latitudes to the equatorial extremes of heat, water and life.
In the early morning these days, when the breeze is up a little before dawn, I think I hear the shimmering music of wind in the treetops, like in a forest of oaks, or a sea of palms.
But it is only the weeds. Wind in the weeds. Not as poetic as wind in the willows, but worth respect anyway. These are serious weeds, eye-high, bashing forward and marching over and through the foothills like a green, alive invading force, inspiring movie plots. It is a season to own Roundup stock. The pigweed roots must go through to China.
It is the Earth operating on all cylinders. Life, as I have ever seen it, has always been a partial thing, some percentage of a potential that, no matter how hard we try or how much we brag, can never be reached. The Earth is not so limited. When it roars, it roars at full throat, and when we hear it, our eyes go wide in the night and we want to run.
The Earth is destruction and construction in equilibrium. When the Earth burns, it burns completely. In Southern California, but in other places too, humans have developed a willingness to overlook that reality has too often been in the way when the Earth started to burn. Officials say the Cedar fire burned at a speed of 6,000 acres an hour. What are humans to do, against potential so utterly realized?
I remember how red the sky was when I could see it, and how black at night. And every morning, for days after the fires were out, I went outside to see a new dusting of ash everywhere. Finally we got the ash off everything, and it settled into the ground and waited for rain.
It was a nervous time, last October, the first anniversary of the fires. You could strike a match and turn a thousand heads. Then, almost the very week of the anniversary, it rained. And rained. Such a contrast, and such a relief to smell the rain at night and know that fire could not follow in this particular October.
By November, the hillsides were green. It rained some more. The hillsides became greener. Burn areas always show new life when rain comes, but this was the whole county. Anything that grew, did, and much of that green were things we wanted to grow.
But it’s the weeds that get me. The weeds are Earth’s mother grass, and after the ash and rain, destruction and construction, we have a movie-plot crop, brought to us by no more than the Earth doing its ordinary front-page thing.
I am lucky to live on a little La Mesa hilltop with an unobstructed view of the east horizon and every clear morning of the year, when it is clear, I see the sun come up. Every morning, for two or three seconds, it appears as a diamond on the edge of the world, the Earth and sun in marriage and their diamond an icon of the potential of the day to come. It is a potential that is always completely realized, in ways that humans can only dream about, but still should think about. The Earth is such a model.
Journalist, author and educator Michael Grant has been putting his spin on San Diego, and the city putting its spin on him, since 1972.