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Gifts from the Earth

An Earth Day Challenge.

I am listening to the wind wildly howling outside of my home.

Wind can be an inconvenience to me when it blows my potted plants around the backyard, and can be a threat to me when it becomes a destructive force during weather events.

As I shut my window to keep out the chill, I remind myself that this wind is a gift. This is the wind that blows fresh air into my lungs. This is the wind that disperses the seeds that will be this summer’s bounty. This is the wind that will bring in the warmer weather to come. This is the wind that shapes the landscapes that shape my life.  

Every minute of every day in every season we receive gifts from the earth.  That’s why, to celebrate Earth Day this year, I decided to give myself and the Patch readers this Earth Day Challenge:

List 50 reasons why I am grateful for the earth.

At first it seemed like a tedious task, but about halfway through I noticed that the more gratitude I listed, the more gratitude I felt, and the rest of the list was done in a flash. That’s the way these things work. Fear leads to more fear. Gratitude leads to more gratitude. And more gratitude leads to more gifts. So this year for Earth Day, I have decided to focus on the gifts I receive from the earth.

By the time I reached number 50, I had renewed my appreciation and commitment to giving back to the earth as best I can. Isn’t that what Earth
Day is all about? Good luck, and remember to share your lists to spread the
gratitude! And when you are inspired, check out these articles on
Patch for ideas on how you can give back to the earth.   

This Earth Day, I Am Grateful For:

  1. The wind’s power and presence.
  2. The beautiful sunset today.
  3. The sweet potatoes I enjoyed with my family
    yesterday.
  4. The fresh drinking water that comes into my faucet
    from an underground well.
  5. The trees around me. I always feel sheltered.
    Not to mention their gift of oxygen!
  6. The seasons. They encourage me to remember that
    change is good and necessary.
  7.  The night creatures that live in a world that I may never fully understand.
  8. The dead turkey I saw on the road today. It reminded me to slow down.
  9. The gifts I have received from all of the pets I have had.
  10. The knowledge and wisdom that I have gained from watching wildlife.
  11. Cedar trees. They smell amazing and they are great for fire-starting.
  12. The reliability of earth’s cycles (daily, monthly, yearly, etc.) is very grounding.
  13. The song of frogs in the spring. It makes me want to sing, too!
  14. Maple Syrup. No explanation needed.
  15. The few inches that my shoulders drop when I go into nature.
  16. The satisfaction of planting a seed in the spring and watching it grow all summer.
  17. The fresh air and endorphin rush of a good hike in the woods.
  18. Spring flowers, which bring hope after a long winter.
  19. The oranges I am eating, that are packed with vitamin C and will help me fight this cold.
  20. The experience of absolute stillness and peace that can be found in certain places on this earth. It reminds me to slow down and listen.
  21. Medicines I have taken that have come directly, or indirectly, from the earth.
  22. The feeling of my bare feet in grass. Aaahhhh!
  23. Ticks. They humble me.
  24. The freshness of the air in winter-time, especially
    after a snow.
  25. The innumerable ways that I have used wood and products
    made from wood.
  26. The spell I am under when I watch a fire.
  27. The changeability of nature. It’s very rare to
    see the same exact thing twice.
  28. The landscape I live in, which is covered in
    trees, rocks and next to a big river. When I travel to other landscapes I
    realize how much of my outlook on life is shaped by this landscape.
  29.  The Hudson River. It is such a source of richness for us New Yorkers.
  30. The things about the earth that people can’t explain. They keep the mystery alive.
  31.  The smell of lavender, which is very calming to me.
  32. Eagles that amaze me in their strength and power.
  33. The clouds in the sky that warn of upcoming weather and amuse me with their designs.
  34. Bees. Besides the gifts of honey and wax, they pollinate plants so that humans can enjoy the fruits.
  35. The ocean. It can be a very relaxing place, but also exhilarating!
  36. The end of a hot summer day when the cicadas start calling, the fireflies come out, and the relief of coolness is finally felt.
  37. Resources from the earth such as sun, coal, oil and wind that provide me with heat and power.
  38. Rocks. Many indigenous people call rocks the grandfathers
    of the earth. They hold the wisdom of the earth as they humbly hold my home up.
  39. The times I have seen the earth physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually heal people.
  40. Turtles. They teach me patience and persistence.
  41. Human beings. We are as much a part of the earth as the crow that calls and the leaves that fall.
  42. The diversity on this planet in people, plants and animals. This keeps our ecosystems strong and resilient.
  43.  The yearly emergence of butterflies reminds me to live within the natural stages of my life.
  44.  The adaptability of nature and people.  
  45. The smell of fallen pine needles in the sunshine.
  46. The song of the chickadee.
  47. Water. It can take any form, can serve any purpose, and keeps us all alive.
  48. Raspberries and wineberries that I harvest in the summertime.
  49.  The extremes in nature that collectively create balance. Our earth has darkest and lightest, highest and lowest, biggest and smallest, hottest and coldest.
  50. The ever-giving Mother Earth. I wouldn’t be alive without it!
Robin Traum April 11, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Whether you participate in Earth Day activities or not, the Earth does provide things we should be thankful for. I appreciate the change of seasons we enjoy in the northeast.
Lisa Buchman April 12, 2012 at 01:21 AM
I second that, Robin, I could never live where the climate is the same year-round! And echo #38 - rocks. Lately my daughter has had an endless fascination - swirly, spotty, smooth, you name it. We're on the hunt everywhere we go.
John J. Timmel April 12, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I think it's fine to appreciate all the wonderful sights and sounds and things that Ms. Rhines mentions in her column. We are indeed fortunate to live in a beautiful part of a beautiful country. However, "Mother Earth," and everything that is contained on it, over it and under it - including ourselves - are creations of God. It is God who created us, gave us life and who keeps us alive, so it is to Him that thanks should be given. Mother Earth doesn't keep us alive - God does.
Beth Rhines April 15, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Thanks, John, for your thoughtful comment. Personally, I see God in nature, and nature in God. It is all inter-connected in an amazing way :)

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