Earth Week 2017

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, she finds it attached to the rest of the earth.
— John Muir

In the spring, around 5 p.m. every night, the sun shines into my apartment as it sets. It casts remarkable shadows onto my walls and furniture and fills my 900 square feet with light. I like to think this is the sun smiling down upon the Earth.

As I write this post, a celebration of Earth Week (April 17-23), I feel like it is smiling even bigger.

Humans, on the other hand, don't always smile at the Earth. We aren't always the nicest to our environment, so this week, I tried to do my part even more than I normally would. I partook in a few Earth Day events to either celebrate Mother Earth or help clean her up.

Here's how I celebrated Earth Week 2017:

1. Wildlife in Need raptor program hosted by Retzer Nature Center

You know that student who sits in the front of the class, asks way too many questions and takes copious notes? That was me at this program, only instead of notes, it was pictures. My friend Sara and I sat front and center and learned about owls and hawks and other birds of prey. We learned what they eat, where their ears are, what do if you ever hit one with your car, and other interesting facts. It was a hoot.

The three birds we got to meet were all hit by cars, brought into the center and could not be released back into the wild due to the severity of their injuries.

  • First is Chloe, the screech owl, who lost her eye sight, some brain function and broke her wing.

  • Second is Raenah, the red-tailed hawk, who broke her wing.

  • Third is Sova, the barred owl, whose eye had to be removed in surgery.

2. Milwaukee Riverkeeper's 22nd Annual Spring River Cleanup - Hubbard Park Cleanup

Diana and I woke up extra early on Earth Day (April 22) to help clean up one of the Milwaukee rivers. Clad in our teal rubber gloves and matching shirts, we picked up garbage along the edge of the river. Our location happened to be a pretty clean park, however we did manage to find some questionable items. It felt great to rid the river of the trash it had been collecting. I definitely want to help out again next year.

3. Rock the Green's 6th Annual Earth Day Celebration at Estabrook Park

Because we helped clean the river, we were invited to Rock the Green, where we had lunch and got a free beer. The festival was filled with local and sustainable food vendors and eco-educational booths. All food was served on compostable servingware and the event promoted zero waste production. It was a fun and rewarding way to learn about many eco-friendly companies in Milwaukee and share in the environmental efforts around the city.

Trapper Schoepp    on a pedal powered stage.

Trapper Schoepp on a pedal powered stage.

4. Wildflower Hike at Retzer Nature Center

I've said before that I'm pretty sure my soul is filled with wildflowers. So when I found out about a wildflower hike and program, I showed up with (blue)bells on. 

Led by Larry the Naturalist, Diana and I learned all about the different wildflowers blooming at Retzer Nature Center. My favorite was called Bloodroot, which, when cut apart, can leave henna-like stains on your skin. We learned about different types of pollunation, the parts of a flower, and what each species does for the environment.

5. Read A Stranger in the Woods: The Extraodinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

My friends Maggie, Jordan and I took to the park to spend some time outside, talking, reading and laughing. There's nothing better than friends who share your passions, and one of mine is literature. In fact, these two women and I (along with a few others) are in a book club together. A Stranger in the Woods is our April book. This work of non-fiction centers around a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years. It's a journalistic look into his time spent there and what it means to live a secluded lifestyle. I devoured it in about two days. 

"Two of life's greatest pleasures, by my reckoning, are camping and reading - most gloriously, both at once."

6. Bought plants at Stein's Garden & Home and other Earth Week essentials

I adopted a cat recently, so I've been getting new plants that are not poisonous to her. The two I ended up buying were a bromeliads and a spider plant. Aside from plants, we got a free t-shirt at the river cleanup, and I bought a Retzer pin for my backpack.

Besides Earth Day, Saturday was Record Store Day, so I treated myself to a few because everything was on sale. And what two records scream Earth Day more than Strange Trails by Lord Huron and Oh, Inverted World by The Shins?

I also stocked up on some hiking gear this week:

  • A Patagonia hip-pack for my trip to Arizona next month

  • Teva sandals for the same thing (and because they're adorable)

  • Some new REI hiking socks

  • A collapsable water bottle (this was actually free at Rock the Green)

And that was my Earth Week. It was pretty great. I cleaned, I spent time with friends outside, I hiked, I put flowers all over my face, I freaked out about how much I love owls, and, most importantly, I learned.

For as long as I'm alive, I'm going to do my part to make sure the sun keeps smiling at the Earth.


*Featured image by Diana Kraus*