It is Earth Day every day at our house. But it was good to know that as we worked in the Crab Grass Nation today, that we were joined with people all over the world who are waking up and going green. Today we planted more bouganvillea, some azores, some frilly flowers in purple and red whose names I don’t know in the bed under the writing room window. Got buzzed by a dragon fly, first one I’ve seen in ages. Just love the black earth in my hands. Just love getting down on hands and knees and cutting away the dead branches. Just love hearing the sighs of Earth who is glad we are remembering her in this place. Just love seeing how a call is going out around the planet, it is her own voice calling to us. Hey. You-all wake up hear? Plant more trees, green up your hearts and your works hear. This is your mother speaking. It is Earth Day, and I am thinking about our trees. The oldest and tallest of them planted by my parents in the 1950s, the Saffron at the gate, the two mangoes in the back, the Australian Pine, the Shower of Gold, and the Tree With No Name, tho some have called her pigeon plum. Then, there is the next generation, the trees I planted in the 1980s and into the 90s, the Gumelame, the Ficus, and the smaller trees, the hibiscus and the bouganvilleas. Then there are the trees we three have planted as a family, the young saffrons that Dad uncovered growing wild in the crabgrass and nurtured to their present nine foot height, the yellow Poinciana, and this spring as we’ve worked in the yard we’ve uncovered the next generation of seedlings, a kazillion tiny palms. Why won’t the roses bloom? I poured on the water for them. The sunflower seedlings under the baby yellow Poinciana are a cheerful crowd and a fairy watches over them. Leaves have been raked into piles all around, and the pothole gardens are reaching out for the coming summer. I can see all this from the front door step, the circling trees have made the rest of the street invisible.
Yesterday an old friend popped by to visit, and it was very good to see her. She told me the saddest story I think I’ve ever heard. She told me that a few years ago she had agreed to allow her Over the Hill ancestral homestead to be used by a home for troubled girls. My friend wanted to do something to help young women at risk in the town of Nassau, and there are many. The woman and her girls moved in, and the first thing she did, my friend said, was cut down every single tree in the yard. Her family had lived in this house for four generations, some of the trees were planted by her Great Grandmother and had taken forty years just to reach their first blooming. Many of them were planted by her grandmother . they were my friend’s best friends. I felt faint when I heard this story. Some of those trees were close to one hundred years old. The woman said she did it to prevent burglary. Whatever. This happened several years ago, my friend still grieves hard. I look up into the shushing green canopy on Earth Day and wonder at how the old trees have survived, through all the years and all the hurricanes and all the disregard for the Earth Mother. I wonder at how they have planted their own seedling babies. I wonder at the dream I had ten years ago when D was a baby. In the dream I am looking out from the front door at the lush green yard all around, and also looking at the smoking, treeless desolation beyond our wall. I have imagined the scene many times, somehow chaining myself to the old Cassia when the time came that we were at risk of losing it. I have rehearsed the words I’ll say to them when they come with their chainsaws. Rehearsed the scariest Wicca chants I can find and compose. My mother planted that tree. Why didn’t she plant it in her own yard? That’s another story. It hangs over our driveway and has done since forever, it will be covered in blazing yellow flowers in the summer. We love her like a grandmother. Who would cut her down? But there are some who would. Me and my family are standing guard.
Its Earth Day and the windows are dark with night and the birds have all gone to bed. I can't wait to see how the new flower beds look in the sunrise tomorrow.