My mother would have been 77 years old today. Her birthday coincides with Earth Day this year, which seems fitting. She derived her greatest joys, it seemed, from nature-related activities: camping alongside a mountain stream; watching a sunset at the beach; and singing about sweet violets and moonbeams, carried home in a jar. I suspect this was also her private torment, given that we spent so much time on the road–endless days and countless miles, blurring past, rarely knowing for sure where we’d eventually land.
She’d stare out the window, wrapped up in her private thoughts as the moon traded places with the sun and the landscape morphed from rocky terrain to desert wasteland. And then suddenly, with a single word, she’d fix our attention on something she’d seen beyond the narrow ribbon of asphalt. “Look!” she’d say, and I’d follow her pointing finger to a lizard, sunbathing on a rock. “Over there!” she’d exclaim, and we’d wish together on a shooting star.
“For the Beauty of the Earth…” It was my mother who first taught me this song, who also showed me Mother Nature’s bounty. And it was through her eyes (and Nana’s example) that I came to fully appreciate the wondrous beauty of the earth, sea and sky.