By Phil Hough
Dear Mother Earth,
What a year it has been. Last April as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up, many of us went home in isolation from each other and, at first, from you. We struggled with adapting to new ways to work, to attend school, to have dinner and to pursue our happiness amid a cloudy future. Individuals living alone became isolated, living like hermits. Families and their new-found closeness brought both joy and struggles.
Unsure of when, where and whether we could go out, we stayed close to home, working and worrying. Days were filled with uncertainty, stress and sadness. Last April most people simply sheltered in place to ride out the COVID storm. Many did not venture far from their own backyards. In those early pandemic days you didn’t see much of us. So, you may have felt a bit lonely, too. But we knew you would be there when we needed you most.
Last summer you opened your arms wide — especially the public lands you hold. From your lakes and rivers to your forests, canyons, mountains we found safety, solace and sanity in getting out of doors. With conferences, concerts, sporting games and other large events canceled, we had more time to explore the wonders of your creation. We returned to favorite places and sought out new ones. Many of your children discovered your trails for the first time. You were there for us when we needed a place to restore our sense of balance, reduce our stress and connect to others in small groups in safe ways.
We know that this took a toll on you, although you did not complain. I am hoping my siblings will join me in helping to restore you in the coming months. You deserve some special treatment for all you have done in the last year. If we all do our part to help keep you in good shape, then I know we can continue to count on you in the months and years ahead.
Last year most events for Earth Day — your birthday — were canceled. It’s not that we didn’t care, we just couldn’t gather together. Like so many other relatives you had to put up with the “Zoom” parties held in your honor. We know it’s not the same; and, for some, Zoom will need to continue to be the way that they wish you the best. But, this year it also looks like we may be able to hold a few smaller gatherings. And we can keep the celebration going all summer.
— Your devoted son
Phil Hough is an accomplished thru-hiker, having trekked some of the longest trails in the United States; is a founding board member of the Idaho Trails Association, along with serving in numerous current and former leadership positions on several outdoors and natural resource groups; and serves as executive director of Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.
How to help your m0ther
Here are some thoughts on how we can all help out Mother Earth to make sure she stays in good shape to help us.
Participate in an Earth Day event, whether it’s online or outside. Take a personal action that makes a difference. If we all do something — no matter what it is — it will make a difference.
A good practice for us all is to learn more about the Leave No Trace principles: lnt.org/why/7-principles/.
Consider volunteering for a trail project to restore your favorite trail. Here in our neck of the woods we have many local trails organizations to choose from. Montana Wilderness Association, the Cube Iron Cataract Coalition, several Backcountry Horsemen of America Chapters, 9B Trails, Pend Oreille Pedalers, Idaho Trails Association and the Washington Trails Association, to name a few.
Close to my heart is the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. You can lead a hike, help maintain trails or educate others about wildlife as a Trail Ambassador. Learn more at scotchmanpeaks.org.
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