Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Flowering Quince

It's been 39 years since the first Earth Day . . . I find it hard to believe that - especially since I remember the first one . . . I am definitely getting old . . . but not so old that I don't remember how I celebrated the 5th Earth Day in 1975, my senior year of high school!

I attended Richard C. Lee High School in New Haven, Connecticut. It was an award-winning structure when it was built. There were no windows in the classrooms, and no color, either. Everything was white -- the carpet and the walls -- except for the fire-engine red lockers located in the hallways under large windows that encircled each of the four quadrants, or "houses." The building was sunk into the ground and surrounded by a parking lot that looked like a moat. The sloping sides of the moat were planted with grass, but no trees.

(I'm sad to say this is the only photo of Lee I could find . . . )

My friend Seth was an avid environmentalist (I wonder if he still is? For that matter, I wonder where he is?) He had seen a construction site where men were digging up trees and getting rid of them. He wanted to plant one in the moat at Lee for Earth Day, but how to get it from place to another? Enter my friend Mary (I don't know where she is now, either), who was lucky enough to own a 1965 Chevy Malibu convertible. We somehow managed to get the tree (with a root ball about 5 feet wide) into the back seat, with the canopy hanging off the back end of the car. We drove the streets of New Haven without getting stopped, people honking their horns and waving at us as we passed . . . We got the tree back to school, dug a hole, planted it, and realized there was no way to water it . . . Needless to say, it died not long after.

The tree is dead and Lee High School no longer exists, but Earth Day is here to stay. Celebrate by recycling, or using a cloth grocery bag, or refusing to buy water in plastic bottles. Better yet -- plant a tree! Just be sure you can water it when you're through . . .

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