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Wednesday, April 22

earth day reverie

The 1st Earth Day was in 1970. I was in college (yes, I am veryvery old) and Ralph Nader was coming to speak. Back then, Ralph was all about Chevys and what was in your hot dogs and how we were polluting the air/water/earth. He had yet to run for anything as far as I remember. I had done my part, I thought, by infiltrating the St Patrick's Day parade that year with a "radical environmental group" , carrying a hapless trout in a big glass jar, "threatening" to dump said trout in the Buffalo River where it would surely die an immediate death due to pollution. After being politely led out of line somewhere on Main St, we proceeded to the river where we expected someone, anyone, from the media would be there to hear our pleas and give publicity to the river's plight. Alas, they were all otherwise occupied with the parade, finding the dancers and bands and drunks and shamrocks way more newsworthy. We were a sorry bunch that gloomy March morning and I can't for the life of me remember what we did with the fish.

Then, in April, there was Earth Day. The first one. This was exciting. The world was waking up, change was coming! ( I was veryvery young.) And Ralph was coming. He was young, too. He had a shock of dark hair and was perpetually disheveled and scholarly looking. A very romantic figure. I was scheduled to teach that day, earning student teaching credits but Ralph was coming. I called in sick.

I don't remember which building on the UB campus was designated for his speech, but it was overflowing so they put speakers outside so the faithful could hear him. And that was my karma. TV crews filmed the "hippies" on the lawn with their signs and balloons and baseball caps with leaves sewn on them. So it was that my beaming, innocent face became part of the local news that night. I didn't see it, but the principal did. A friend called to warn me. From then on I was known as the resident radical and barely escaped with my 20 credits. My friend teased me about that for years, bringing the story out for laughs and memories.

Almost 40 years? Impossible, I think. And what happened? I look around and see some positive change, but I know there is a hole in the atmosphere and the ice caps are melting under the polar bears. It makes me very sad. But the old girl keeps spinning, laboring under our weight and our carelessness. Mother Earth, wishing her kids would take responsibility. Giving life, beauty, even as she struggles

We old girls just keep on.

So, for both of us, do a few good things every day. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth, unplug your chargers, recycle, stop with the bottled water already. Just those few things, what a difference it would make.

Do it for your Mother.

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