Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Mother Earth Celebrates Earth Day
Drinking coffee from an earthy mug made by Joe Blair on Earth day and a favorite handwoven coaster made by a potter/weaver from Silverton, Colorado.
Earth day. Earth day and early morning muses.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of being on Karen Keith's wonderful and ever so missed Oklahoma Living TV show. It was a real compliment and fun to be on her show three time using up an hour and a half of my 15 minutes of Andy Warhol fame. And she officially referred to me as Brookside's "Mother Earth" several times reinforcing this idea. A local garden club gave me a certificate as well declaring me Mother Earth. And it was suggested I rename my pottery shop, Mother Earth's Pottery. And that too is a real compliment.I guess I am an earth hugger maybe even more than a tree hugger, damned extremist liberal that I am.
I don't like to "naval gaze" too much but I will declare this "earth gazing" instead and try not to capitalize i's just like my friend Tom has taught me.
The earth. It is not to be taken for granted. My fondest memories of loving the earth and feeling the earth come from my walk across Tennessee. It was a chance to feel every step and every day with senses that are so often ignored or brushed by. Our feet would ache and sting every night for 62 days as my husband and I walked from east to west in the hot summer. He wrote stories about our journey and I photographed it and we sent it back to the Gatlinburg Press once a week.
One night we slept on the Cumberland plateau behind a farmer's house in our tent on the path of the Trail of Tears. The path was still slightly visible and we put our tent and sleeping bags in the middle of if to sleep. It was like I hugged the earth like a bed all night to sleep. Maybe it was my imagination but it was like I could feel the journey with great emotion of the Cherokees as they walked the path. It was like Mother earth was giving me an insight to life. Or was it just dreams?
Camping and sleeping directly on the earth is a very sensuous thing to do, especially if you are young enough at the time and your body does not hurt as the earth pushes on it. Another morning while hiking on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina, John, my husband and then boyfriend, our friend Wayne and I were settling down for a night in a tent on the trail in the fall. The next morning we woke to the surprise of a tent and ground covered with snow. The snow was silent as we slept and woke our senses but freezing moist air hitting the hair in our nose. We could smell the earth.
Moss clings beautifully to rocks and on the trail unlike any greenhouse could ever produce. It makes a thousand shades of moist green along the way on rocks and ground. Mother earth does it best.
When my friend Gini was dying of cancer and I was stuck in Oklahoma unable to see her on a daily basis. I dug a hole in the earth for a pond. It was 100 degrees outside as I dug that hole and I felt the comfort of the cold moist earth thinking she would be cremated and buried soon. I thought maybe it would not be so bad to end up in the earth and if I died digging that hole they could just push me in too. How is that for sharing the pain? Maybe it is not so bad to return to the earth. There was comfort in the earth.
In college, I had a friend Anne Ragan. She took me to one of the strangest and earthy places I have ever had. It was like visiting the old testament. It was on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee to the farm of Roy Gunter. This man literally believed in ashes to ashes and dust to dust and said so. We were there to gather information about folk music. Evidently he knew words to old songs but I was so overwhelmed by his farm I never heard a note. Luckily I had been forewarned about "his place." We pulled down a long drive way only to see lots of animals in all stages of life. We drove around a dead mule in the drive way. There were grown dogs and puppies to greet us. Cats were everywhere. Various carcasses were across the yard. It smelled so much we had to clean our shoes when we got home and not walk on anything we did not want to smell like death and decay. He was also a wood turned and offered to make us each a rolling pin. As he turned the wood I saw on one side on the floor under the lathe, a mama cat and lots of baby kittens and on the other side was a skeleton of another cat. The pin slipped and there was a gouge in the wood. He said he wanted to make me another but I told him I wanted that imperfect one. It symbolized to me the imperfection of life. He was single, needless to say, and his daughter had run away from home. She had been known to hide her clothes along the drive way so as not smell like her home as she got on the school bus. It did not work. She left. It was to say a very earthy experience, nearly surreal.
I am sure there is already some religious name for the way I feel about the beauty of the earth. There is a hym about it but i don't remember the words, just the tune. Maybe facebook will come up with one of its corny quizzes and educate me to what it is called. I really don't care or I would look it up. I just care about the earth and our perception of it.
Think about how it is spinning and we don't even have to hold on. When you lie in the sand on a beach on your belly kind of making a sand angel it would be quite the sight to see from a distance. The earth is spinning and you are spread eagle holding on like a giant ride at the fair.
I touch and feel the earth everyday in my job. I take pieces of the earth and make art and bowls for our food to nourish our bodies. It seems like a miracle that we figured out if we heat the earth high enough it changes to a stone like permanent material. Love that science.
Think about how our food just kind of pops out of the earth. And we learned to slice trees and build houses or make adobe or red brick or stack stones from the earth to make homes. Taste a beet or a potato and taste the earth. Peas taste like spring. Ice tastes like glaciers. Water keeps us alive.
Grounded. What word could better express feeling stable. Remember my friend whose father died and she felt so other worldly, they made her sit in a lawn chair in the yard with her feet in the grass until she could feel real again.
As a child, if you are grounded, you are in big trouble and must halt. Whose idea was that? Maybe the idea is wise and positive when you realize if you know no limits you know no freedom. So, you are "grounded." Now start over and you have another chance to improve your ways.
So I sit with my coffee, with the window open in my dining room, listening to the morning birds who try and tell me what earth day is really about and a how silly we are to put it on a calendar to remember it and own it.
We should have earth day everyday. And now the new day begins. It is spring and it is warm again.