An earthy weekend

Earth Day is Sunday and it feels like the annual environmentally-friendly day sneaked up on everyone this year for the simple reason that winter’s stranglehold on the weather has kept spring at bay. Only the hardiest gardeners and home improvers have ventured into their yards, rakes in hand, to spruce up lawns and planting beds.

But the earth is calling. Frosts have gone the way of March and tree limbs are poised to sprout panoplies of green accompanied by sneezing and itchy eyes for allergy sufferers. Earth Day — cold weather, rain or not — summons one and all to prepare lawns, public ways, parks and natural areas as expansive as Lynn Woods and Breakheart Reservation for spring’s full bloom followed by summer’s warmth.

Earth Day also sets a standard for how we should treat the beaches, fields, woods and parks around us not only every April 22 but every day. Cleaning up and stripping natural environs of a winter’s worth of trash and compacted leaves primes them for fresh growth but also engages all of us in the role of Nature’s custodian.

Earth Day founders drew a stark conclusion when they organized the annual cleanups and environmental awareness days and declared that Humanity can either be a destroyer and polluter or assume the mantle of collective stewardship of all that is natural.

It’s touching and encouraging every year to see children busy with trash bags and ill-fitting gloves as they pick up trash or pile last fall’s leaves for collection. If Earth Day is a renewal of responsibility for the supposedly wiser and more mature among us, then it is also a call to action and recruitment effort for young people to look beyond their own world to the world around them and take responsibility for its survival.

Oakville/Minot Street residents in West Lynn kick off Earth Day early with a Saturday cleanup aided by the Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development. Their efforts will be duplicated nationally and, hopefully, globally as people spend a few hours picking up trash and undertaking environmentally-friendly projects.

Cynics suggest Earth Day is a once-a-year “feel good” effort with little, if any, environmental impact. But standing on the sidelines Sunday is to deny the year-round value of dedicating a day a year to giving Nature a helping hand. Earth Day’s enduring lesson isn’t focused on saving the environment or taking a stand against plastics pollution; rather it is dedicated to the proposition that all of us can clean up the collective mess we have made and, in the process, learn more about the planet we live on.

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