• Gordon MacLellan

Earth Day and imagination

Good morning!

Today is Earth Day 2020

Today becomes a good day to look beyond our own socially distanced circumstances and find out more about other places, other peoples, other ecosystems and the plants and animals that live there

Earth Day Network:

Our mission? To build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and planet.

Earth Day Network’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 75,000 partners in over 190 countries to drive positive action for our planet.

We are all, always, connected…try a series of explorations round your house and standing in the street outside

Weather: can you trace weather patterns; where does the wind that blows down your street come from, where is it going? What landscapes does it carry in its dust?

Family: where in the world have you or your family been – holidayed, lived, gone on a school or work trip? If you can, go back a generation and see if the pattern changes.

Food: go through your food cupboard and ‘fridge: where does our food come from? Go further back than our recent shopping and ask where did that food originally come from? We all know the familiar ones: tomatoes and potatoes from southern America, but pineapples? Aubergines? Marrows? Do some digging and you might find that we hold a historic geography in our kitchens and we can trace contemporary global food movement systems through the labels on fresh veg and tins.

And we haven’t even started on friends, neighbours, clothes and furniture…..

Other things to do: visit the Loving Earth project for ideas about creating fabric panels and beautiful images of plants, places and animals

So, pause. Step back and think about animals (or plants, it’s up to you!). Do you have a favourite species? Loved? Admired? Cherished? Loathed but you can’t look away from? Why not make a point today of finding out more, looking at how you might help them perhaps from here on the other side of the world.

Other things to do: visit the WWF-UK website and think about how you might help that animal or plant you have been thinking about

Give yourself time, too, to think about why you chose that species: try listing the features that draw you to it…start with the obvious and move onto qualities, lessons you might learn by watching it (persistence? Determination (watch a dung beetle rolling a ball of elephant dung…), courage? “running away”, “running away very fast”, “avoiding trouble by disappearing”…..Thinking about how an animal lives does not need value judgements: the animal that runs away very fast is not “being cowardly”, it is being itself. Animals generally are very good at being the sort of animal they are and behave in the way that suits them best rather than doing things that suit our ideas of “bravery”, “nobility” or whatever. A mouse is excellent at being a mouse, better at being that than any other plant or animal could be and we can admire it for its mouse-skills rather than turning it into a miniature human. Enjoy animals and plants for what they are and not for what we think they should be

If you end the activity above with a list, look at that list as a set of phrases (easier than single words) and shuffle them around, find a sequence, edit it, speak it aloud, change it again, create your own celebration of that animal and stand up and declaim it! Then send it to us, please!

Email: admin@celebrationearth.org

Facebook: Celebration Earth

Other things to do: visit the Climate Coalition website and download Green Heart "Show the Love" ideas….Maybe make your own Green Heart for the Planet to add to your window next to your Window Rainbow

Two pieces of writing follow…

The second one was created in the same way as the notes above. The first one comes from Harry Owen, a poet living in South Africa. Harry writes about rhinos here but I am sure that same sense of watching something wonderful will resonate with many of us thinking about many different species

Lockdown Poem 19: In recent years the cruelly persecuted rhinoceros has become a kind of totem to me. In their peaceful company I feel as though I am in the presence of my ancestors. The phrase 'eyona indala' is isiXhosa for 'oldest of the old'.

Eyona indala

We intrude, of course, as we always do. But we’re accepted here, invisible, sitting downwind in the Land Rover and sharing the sun’s drumcrush with five great grey boulders whose heads are sculpted in rock like presidents. It is hot, growing hotter, this time-slip into African prehistory, a long migration from the angry snarl of freeways.

When at last they turn to the shade of thicket, through knives of acacia thorn, they make no sound, none at all, these giants of the moon. Their silence is the phantom of a used-to-be ancient presence, their honouring of soul.

Harry Owen (from the anthology 'For Rhino in a Shrinking World', 2013: find the rhino anthology, here: https://rhinoanthology.wordpress.com)


Written from comments and phrases left on Dove Valley Meadow Meander on 7th July, 2019, Dove Valley, Centre, Upper Dove Valley, Staffordshire

Listen to "Haymeadows", here

We sink Into a field rustling and bustling with life, Into a froth of grass, Into a sea of grasshopper sound, A dream where nothing changes. The cows sleeping under a willow Have been resting there for centuries.

Memories are rooted in these meadows, In the fleeting lives of butterflies, In nodding seedheads, In thistledown drifting on a hot breeze. Farms, families, paths, tools and stories, All knitted to the earth as tightly as the turf. Childhood holidays rooted here too, New names, first meetings, Stonechats, curlews, those grasshoppers again.

The rhythm of a scythe echoes across centuries, They walked where we walk, Those old farmers on a summer day, The slice and hiss of a blade and The whetstone that hones the edge, Finding shade under these same trees, Cutting the waving grass from the same sward.

Harebell and cranesbill Selfheal and tormentil, Scabious and burnet, The names are an enchantment A spell for a meadow, Whispered on a dusty wind Colour, scent, pollen and promise, Foxtail, cocksfoot, Fescue, vernal and bent, The rooted and the free, Meadow brown and large white, Ringlet and tortoiseshell, Prayers blown between earth and sky. Futures are rooted in this rare and ancient place, Still growing memories Having fun in the river, catching insects, A diving beetle! Knapweed and burnet nod purple heads Studding the rippling ribbons of colour Black medick trembles, yellow heads in the hot dry grass. Seeds of the future in a rare and ancient place, Lose the meadow and the memories wither too, The cows across the field will sleep only in the present.

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