“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”-Rumi
Today is Earth Day, the 50th Earth Day to be exact. My birthday is a few weeks away and I will be 41. I was born 9 years after the first Earth Day and I have considered myself an environmentalist for most of my life. I helped my high school start a garden and a recycling program. I studied soil, extensively. I started my own small farm and grow a good amount of my own food. Yet, as I sit here today in quarantine, it doesn’t feel like enough. It doesn’t feel like our relationship with the Earth is improving. As a species, we are still destroying our home in so many ways.
In my Embodied Ecopoetics class that I taught via Zoom last Saturday for Hugo House, we looked at some of my favorite ecopoetry. The poem “Trophic Cascade” is an amazing and important poem. I love its ecology and I appreciate how it doesn’t leave the human out. The poem is not about this woman, in fact the poet doesn’t refer to the “I” until the end of the poem. She is learning from the ecosystem, she is reverential of the gray wolves as a reintroduced keystone species, and she is also a mother with her own expectations, fears, and feelings.
I know many of us are wondering what the next few weeks to 18 months are going to look like–yes, we all need to start adjusting to a long-term quarantine mentality. When will life get back to normal? However, this slow-down, shut-down time might be an opportunity to really think about our own relationship with the natural world. I am feeling a strange mix of wonder and guilt right now. I am grateful to live and tend such a beautiful place, but have I done enough? What kind of world will my daughters be living in 50 years from now?
It is hard to know the answer to these questions. One of the reasons I started writing poetry again was because I needed a better way to live in the world, a more holistic way to see and understand the world around me. I needed to relearn how to inhabit my human and animal body. The language of science wasn’t cutting it for me. Ecopoetry continues to help me sort through these complicated questions as well as celebrate all that is right here in front of us right now.
Today, on Earth Day 2020, I ask you to dig into your own ecopoetics. What can we learn right now about how we live, what we eat, how we consume? A focus on discovery and creativity could make this quarantine more bearable and it might offer us a better way forward after all of this is over. The old way wasn’t working. As an example of new ideas, Gov. Jay Inslee’s staffers are working on a new climate plan. I have heard of many people reaching out to the farms around them or starting to grow more of their own food. I am rethinking our entire farm plan and sales model to figure out how we can close our loops and be more sustainable. What is next for you?