Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mama Gaia

Ms. Earth, full of her planetary self, has been giving the serious whatwhat! to humans recently, with volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, snowstorms...and even rain and hail. In San Diego.

Our job, it seems, is to prepare for her spectacular volatility as best we can. In the absence--or in spite of--earthquake kits, lava-proof homes, and houses on stilts, we stand in awe of all that is majestic and destructive about her.

I have slept in the sand of Moroccan desert dunes, gazed at Equatorial stars, hunted for salamanders in backyard creeks, trudged through waist-deep urban snow, hiked alpine trails, swum in pristine tropical reefs, and lain naked in spring meadows. I am reminded to encourage and provide my children with these primal, soul-sustaining opportunities.

For many of us, Earth's mood swings produce mere inconveniences, cost us a bit of money. As I write, the Icelandic volcano's magnificent ash cloud has air travel suspended and European travelers stranded. The irony, perhaps, is that our global citizens closest to Earth appreciate her the most and are most victimized by her whimsy. Earth tumbles, sways, spews, rolls, showers, and collapses, and people die.

Savage Beauty that she is, Mother Earth is indifferent.

Happy Earth Day, Mama. Here's a poem I wrote years ago:

"Major Earthquake"

a rolling one, as if on a boat.

A picture of us, built up and moving blithely around on
the back of a turtle who every now and then takes a
step forward.

How elastic are our foundations.

The walls of our world are cardboard creations
constructed on quicksand.
Sometimes I am rueful when nature overrides
the importance of getting to work on time
or turning on the TV.

I watch the human scrambling and
exasperated frustration with nature's inconvenience,
when we accept that there are forces
more powerful than intellect.

While we are crushed under the weight of our own insulation
from nature,
She simply dusts herself off
and moves on.

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