EARTH DAY by Anna Grayson (17)
They stand as strangers on the side of the road, arms outstretched, reaching in all directions. Their elbows are bony and the knots of their trunks need to be resolved. I see an arm that cuts through the air, safeguarding a younger companion who stands beside her. This arm is like that of a mother who clutches her purse while she grabs for her daughter, trying to keep her from the danger of the street. I look at this scene and I want to know these strangers. They are wise, they are worn, and they are confident.
The scene described here is that of the trees that adorn the sidewalks of my neighborhood. Many of the more mature trees are being removed, as a sort of precaution, before they become sicker than they already are, but when I think of how much longer they have lived here than I have, than most of us have, the idea of uprooting them saddens me. Younger trees are being planted in their places, and all around are these mother-daughter, father-son pairs. The mothers and fathers, the old trees, have taught me important things. They have stood as a reminder of the significance of longevity – on my drive to school, on my evening walk, on my run through the park. They beg for my awareness of the natural world, of the earth that lies below the concrete. They say “look at my leaves and know that there is something much more massive than you.” They advocate for themselves, and for Mother Earth, by reminding each passer-by that they are not the only ones who exist, who take in oxygen, who use this ground. These swing-supporting, climber-inviting trees are teachers, ones from which we can learn and grow in the hopes of becoming as wise and worn as them.
I think all of us can recognize the integrity of the trees that line our lives. On this Earth Day I’d like to think of each one of us as a tree-gazer, a tree-hugger, and an Earth lover. Let’s celebrate Earth Day and embrace consciousness of our surroundings. Let’s sit under the shade of a tree. Let’s gaze through its arms at the cerulean sky. Let’s lay in the grass and feel the earth hold up our bodies. Earth is what keeps us whole, and we must keep it whole in return.