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Earth Day

It’s not too late, because as we keep track of time, it’s not quite midnight so it must still be today. And today is Earth Day. I planted a tree.

I know, Earth Day is about a lot more than planting a tree. It’s loving the Earth, and working toward her protection. It’s using her resources wisely and wasting nothing. Solar power, hydroelectric. Do away with fossil fuels. And plant some trees. I know all of that.

About ten years ago I wanted to celebrate Earth Day at the college where I worked. So I planted a tree. I was the only one to come out for the ceremony. It was a birch tree. Beautiful. Last time I checked, it had BEEN CHOPPED DOWN. BUT guess what? That is not gonna stop me.

Today I planted another tree. Don’t misinterpret. It wasn’t all about Earth Day and saving the world. I had a small sapling that I had bought at a nursery, and it needed a permanent home. Just so happened that I found that home and planted it on Earth Day. Or was it a coincidence?

I think that the stars aligned and the spirits of the universe came together to tell me- plant that tree today.

Earth Day is a day for celebrations and statements. But a love of Mother Earth is a daily thought, without thinking. Its something we do if we really believe. Yes, the climate is changing. Its April and 85 degrees. Those among us who deny, or disbelieve, are passé. Or stupid. Or motiveated in some strange way by money to deny the facts. I think its all bout money, and the folks who don’t believe have some reason to believe in cash.

Whatever. I believe. And I planted a tree. To clean our air and give us oxygen. So when I am choking in the soot and smoke of coal fired energy plants, or burning carbon monoxide of combustible engines, I can say, damn, if only those bastards had believed in global warming I might live to see another sunrise. Peace out folks!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?




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Glowing Visions of Fire

The rising smoke must have been visible for at least fifteen or twenty miles. Black. Thick. Spreading out toward the west as it rose and was buffeted by the wind. Leaving a charcoal grey haze across the evening sky. Fire, and not where one would expect it.

As I stared into the distance I wondered to myself what could be burning. Certainly not leaves! Too much smoke. And the smoke was too dark. Could it be someone burning a pile of logs and brush recently cleared from a woodland to create a clear space for the building of a new shopping mall? Too dark again. Tires?

And then the news began to come in over the radio. And on the television. And Facebook. The old abandoned cordage mill down by the river was ablaze. Origin unknown. It had been sitting empty for years. Teenagers used to go down there to hang out. Evidenced by the graffiti. And there were homeless souls camping out there many years ago. And the glass in the windows got smashed. The roof had giant holes in it that had rotted through. The floors were probably rooted too. Not much more than a shell.

It had been fenced off several years ago to keep people out. I’m pretty sure folks still got in there though. I always thought it would be interesting to see what might still be in there. Relics of an industrial past. But I’m sure it had all long since been looted or salvaged. I had also thought it would be cool to buy it and convert the buildings into loft apartments. But it was on the wrong side of the river and no one wanted to live there.

Maybe some kids got in there and started a fire by accident. They still went near the building to get own to the river for a party or two. Or maybe the homeless had returned. Or maybe, like Jack Lemon in Save the Tiger, the building had outlived its usefulness to the owner and was an economic burden best lifted via a torch. All speculation. Unknown origin.

Looking out over the horizon, seeing the smoke, I was reminded of a fire I saw when I was a young boy. The grocery store near my neighborhood burned to the ground one evening. I say grocery store but it was an early version of something like a Wal-Mart. From the residential hillside over looking the store the people of the neighborhood gathered to watch the conflagration with excitement, awe and a new found respect for fire. As we watched we realized that although there were a number of fire trucks there form the local volunteer fire company, they obviously were not trying to save the building. Contain the fire. Don’t let it spread.

With a loud bang and the sound of shattering glass, fifteen hundred square feet of window glass suddenly shattered and blew out into the parking lot. As the air flowed into he building the heat of the flames sucked any and all moisture out of the mortar holding the building blocks together and it crumbled away. The blocks then began to separate. Each one delineated by the lines where the mortar used to be. And then the walls collapsed. A total loss.

Something else now stands where the grocery store was. A shopping mall I’ve never been to. And the residential neighborhood still sits on the hill overlooking the stores. Every time I drive by the neighborhood or the spot where the grocery store once stood I remember that fire. And how mesmerizing it was. And frightening. The black smoke I saw on the horizon, coming from the old mill, couldn’t possibly be good news.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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