Earth Day (Belated): Part II

One fine year, so long ago that telephones had dials and newspapers had news, I celebrated Earth Day. How? By going camping. Duh! Is that not of the Earth?

I climbed a smallish mountain, found a place with an excellent view, started a campfire, and watched the sun set over a nice wilderness scene. Then I sipped (chugged?) cheap liquor and listened to the owls hoot. Simple pleasures are the best. Eventually I drifted to sleep on nice soft pine needles. I’m pretty sure Gaia, if she could talk, would be perfectly happy with a drunk redneck snoozing under a hemlock.

The next morning I hiked out. I had to get to work. (No wonder I couldn’t get along with the Earth Day zeitgeist.) When I stopped for gas I was accosted by a patchouli of hippies. They saw my pack and wanted to know what I’d been up to. “Camping” I smiled, happy and naive, thinking I’d found common ground with an alien species, “because it was Earth Day.”

“Oh no.” Said one. “That’s terrible. You missed everything.”

“Bah.” I waved him off. I’d had fun.

“We had a ceremony. That’s how you celebrate Earth Day.” He continued.

“Me too.” I chuckled. “A fifth of Bourbon while the moon rose. It was great. There’s a neat trail I could show you on my map…”

“We planted a tree!” He interrupted.

This meant nothing to me. I’d planted trees too. It’s a handy way to get… well trees. When I plant a tree it’s a “job” not a “green job”. There are no ceremonies and taxes come out of my paycheck; apparently to fund parks where folks can hold “ceremonies”. I’d planted countless trees by then. (I’ve planted more since.)

“OK.” I let it slide, I was in no mood to get in a pissing match with some freak over a ‘ceremony’.

The feeling wasn’t mutual. “Don’t you care? Deforestation is a big deal.” He was getting into my face and he was obviously displeased that I wasn’t currently hyperventilating about Brazilian deforestation.

(Note: You can date environmental politics by the concern du jour. My last “Earth Day” campout was well after the “coming ice age” but only a few years after the “acid rain freakout”. The “ozone hole attack” was on the horizon but hadn’t yet screwed up air conditioners. Al Gore was busy inventing the Internet and probably had no idea that “global warming” would pay for his cushy retirement. The main concern of the time was deforestation. There was rumbling about boycotting McDonalds hamburgers. If you know anything about Americans you know that particular idea died quickly.)

I don’t like people in my face. Game on!

“You’re going to stop deforestation with one tree?” I waved at the hills beyond the gas station. “What the hell is that?” We were in the middle of a forest. Trees covered a hundred miles in every direction.

“It’s a start!” He whined. He pointed to a big mowed area across the street. There, clearly visible, was a single tree. Chest high. Nicely planted, with stakes to hold it upright and everything.

“No.” I disagreed. “It’s not any damn thing at all.” I was past being polite. “You put landscaping in a mowed lawn where dogs shit and you think you’re a goddamned hero. I’ve planted a couple thousand trees and didn’t need a ribbon cutting to do it.”

Whoops. So much for getting along with my fellow man. I tried again. “If you like the Earth go out and play in it. I spend more time outdoors than in. It’s really…” words failed me “…pretty.”

I’d meant to expose the fellow to the idea that all is not lost. That one can embrace the joy of nature without feeling guilty. That a college student in America weeping over a tree in Venezuela doesn’t make a difference to Venezuela or the tree. Something about lighting candles and cursing darkness. Unfortunately, I’d blown it. He was destined to go home and weep. I pictured him in his parent’s basement; listening to The Cure and staring at posters of Ralph Nader. Or maybe he’d seethe in righteous indignation at the troglodyte who was so insensitive that he preferred owls hooting in the moonlight to a ceremony in a park. In the ensuing decades little has changed. There’s no shortage of folks who would gladly shuffle flannel clad rednecks like me into re-education camps with the deeply held belief that this is both righteous and ecologically wise. Personally, I think they’d benefit from an afternoon fishing but what do I know?

Some cultural gulfs cannot be bridged.

“You just don’t get Earth Day!” He stammered.

“You’re right.” I agreed. I grasped for something nice to say; a way to salvage the moment. “Enjoy your tree.” Nope. That wasn’t it. So I left.

I’ve since stopped deliberately celebrating Earth Day. I spend plenty of time in nature. Who needs a “day”?

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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13 Responses to Earth Day (Belated): Part II

  1. cspschofield says:

    The infantile concerns of the Fanatic Earth Day observers never cease to appall me. I grew up in Cleveland OH, and in the early 1970’s was as concerned about “the Environment” as anybody might wish. But I’m descended from a long line of bookworms on both sides; I read up on stuff. And it rapidly became apparent that the vocal Environmentalists were innumerate, astonishingly ignorant of history, and stubbornly uninterested in rectifying either fault. Then Jimmy Carter got elected. I have, and had, scant use for Carter, but to be fair to him, he had taken the Environmentalists tirades to heart. They had been pushing Hydroelectric power to beat the band, and did so right up until the moment that Carter proposed to actually build some on a useful scale. Then the Environmentalist movement had a collective conniption, and I abandoned Environmentalism for good. I also formulated a law or rule of political Environmentalism that I find arguably true to this day;

    “Alternate Energy” means any source of energy that is in no danger of actually generating any useful amount of power.

    This is why the Greens are still so enamored of Solar and Wind; neither produces useful amounts of electricity, in terms of a working electrical grid.

  2. Doubletrouble says:

    Earth day coincides with my logging season, so there’s that.

  3. Rob says:

    Yes! Brilliant.

  4. ASM826 says:

    You can’t say “troglodyte”, it’s insensitive to people that live in caves.

    • Sure you can. It’s always ok to insult people who’ve got more than you do. Check the rulebook.

      I can’t afford a cave so therefore I get to resent and demonize all those rich bastards who have caves.

      Also, due to cave inequality we need a cave tax on those evil 1% troglodytes. After all “they didn’t build it”. In fact we need an “occupy caves” movement to demand less governement and more government to bring it about. Also the government should allocate caves equally, with race taken into account of course.

      Did I cover everything?

  5. Judy says:

    Earth Day is Every Day! Without this blue marble we do not exists.

  6. MaxDamage says:

    About 24 years ago there was a lady near Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in west-central South Dakota who noticed a few fossils, which later turned out to be Sue, a T.Rex with about 80% of her skeleton fossilized and intact. Sue was a big lizard, perhaps warm-blooded but certainly not covered in fur or feathers, and the evidence suggests she lived in what was between a temperate zone and a tropical zone some 66 million years ago. The days were long, the planet was warm, ferns were the size of a Buick and about nine tons of Sue hunted anything made of meat she could see.
    Just a few hundred miles away they’re pulling the remains of Columbian and Wooly Mammoth’s out of the ground near Hot Springs, SD, those being around 12000 years old. Those were furry creatures, suited to chilly temperatures and feeding on grassland.

    So you tell me, given we were once tropical and then temperate and are now talking about global warming while the state both Sue and mammoths were found in have experienced this last winter at -20 degrees for several weeks…

    What is the ideal temperature of the planet? The only answer I seem to get is, “Not what it is now, give me money and I’ll figure that out.”

    • Most people think the “correct” temperature is whatever they expereienced when they were children or young adults. Nobody intentionally phrases it like that but it comes out in conversation if you listen carefully. People who talk about “incorrect” climate invariably start with “I remember when I was a kid” as if that’s the perfect baseline and variance after that time is an abberation.

      Someday when you hear a bunch of Al Gore purists nibbling on their gluten free bagel, listen for the “when I was born the climate was perfect” undertone. It’s there.

  7. rapnzl rn says:

    You rock, AC. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  8. AuricTech says:

    Isn’t Earth Day the day we’re supposed to check to be sure that our ham radio sets and backup gensets are properly grounded?

  9. Pingback: Not Earth Day | The Adaptive Curmudgeon's Blog

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