Saturday, May 15, 2010

Earth Day 2010

In the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica, I sit surrounded by green.  Even the air I breathe is green.  The shadows reflected in Dante Creek shimmer like emeralds.  The mosses, ferns and smooth waxy leaves wrap me in colors that have more shades of green that I have words.

I am here in the tropical lowland rainforest on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica to honor Earth Day.  For me, this is the Source, the Garden, a place rich and lush with life.  

Everywhere, we witness big and small miracles unfolding -- fronds of a new fern, macaws pairing for life, a hummingbird's tiny nest wrapped in lichen and spiderwebs.  

Over eleven years, I have returned to this place, and time and time again discovered something new, something fantastic, some part of the natural world I could never have imagined -- only experienced.  

This year, in late April, we walk the beach path at Corcovado National Park and listen to a din of low repetitive calls.  Not birds.  Not mammals.  Frogs.  Costa Rican Gliding tree frogs have parachuted into a small swamp to lay eggs in their short, frenzied mating.  We watch lime green-colored frogs with huge orangey webbed feet launch themselves from trees and glide, limbs outstretched, to land near the larger females.

For hours, they leap and mate.  Eggs, like luminescent pearls, line the leaves and tree bark.  Later, I read how the tadpoles hatch from these eggs and slither into the water just below.  They are, of course, a species threatened by habitat loss.



Gliding tree frogs
Corcovado National Park
Costa Rica

That's the other message of this 40th anniversary of Earth Day:  LOSS.  

Loss of habitat and diversity.  Species lost, forever.  Loss of respect and connection to the natural world.  Loss of awe and reverence for life.  No more trust in engineers, politicians, words and vows.  

Humans are the only species who destroy where they live and foul resources they must have to survive -- like clean water and unpolluted food supplies.

I write this blog 26 days since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico.  That's 26 days of oil spewing, unchecked, into the ocean -- and there is no known way to stop it.  The "experts" flail, point fingers and whine.  "Well, it's not that bad..."

The oil companies, regulators, designers and builders have lied endlessly and profited from their deceit.  They have no way to stop this oil.  Now, they want to spread offshore drilling into the Arctic and off the eastern seaboard.  What mockery.  What utter contempt for anything living -- people, plankton, fish, coral.   The ocean?

There's a big price to pay for this explosion -- and it's not going to be satisfied by any currency or BP's gesture of throwing dollars at a few states.

The real price will be exacted by the same force that creates 100-foot trees, laden with bromeliads, mosses, entire ecosystems from root to crown.  This same force drives frogs to glide and salmon to hurl themselves back to original spawning streams.  

It's the force of volcanic ash from Iceland, Java, Hawaii.  This force can shift tectonic plates and change everything in nine seconds or less.   Even the oil gushing from that broken pipe driven deep into the ocean floor belongs to this life force -- not to us, not to the puny humans.  

The sooner we learn our place in the natural world, the better it will be for everything living or not.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Really beautiful, Gretchen. Tragic too. I wish I could have been there to see those gliding frogs. I really like your writing style. Have you produced any longer works?