In honour of Earth Week – Spring is coming

Pretty little ‘Glory of the Snow’, a sure sign of spring in Ontario

Every time I walk through a garden or a forest, I’m so grateful for everything that Nature gives us. Spring in Ontario has been a long time coming this year, and bits of flowers bursting out from the soil here and there are a very welcome sight! Next week marks Earth Week 2023, running from April 16 to 22, and it’s a great time to both appreciate the planet we live on, with all its natural wonders, as well as learn how we can best protect what we haven’t already destroyed.

This year’s theme is “Invest in Our Planet”. April 22 is designated as Earth Day, but as the official website states, “It’s not a Day, it’s a Movement”. The site contains a lot of great information for learning more about preserving our truly beautiful planet, as well as things each of us can do to help everyone working very hard on the front lines — becoming a member, signing a petition, taking a pledge, using their toolkits and fact sheets to spread information.

But I think one critical thing is paying attention to all of the little things that make the Earth so wonderful, from the tiniest little flowers and mosses to the trees and plants that clean our air and transmit chemicals that are beneficial to our well-being. A walk through a garden or a forest is a study in peacefulness, enjoying the fresh air, the soft sounds and the detachment from the daily grind.

A carpet of spring crocus makes a burst of colour under a still winter-bare tree

When we realize just how great a gift Nature gives us, we want more of it. We want to protect it. It’s important to begin our environmental journey by recognizing how precious all the tiny things we may not have been paying attention to actually are.

Multi-coloured hellebores in a rock garden in Niagara Falls

A Canadian initiative called For the Love of Creation, created in 2020 to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, brings together over 30 faith-based organizations “under a unified banner to mobilize education, reflection, action and advocacy for climate justice”. If you’re interested in this particular approach, you may want to sign up for their webinar, Addressing Environmental Racism in Canada, on April 25th from 7-8:30pm. The organization also has other activities you might want to check out.

These weird-looking woody protrusions are called Cypress Knees! Scientists haven’t figured out what they do, but they form above the roots of cypress trees growing in swampy areas.

The Canadian-specific site for Earth Day has more interesting things, including a beautiful t-shirt specially designed for this year. Buying it will help plant a tree, but before you do, they also ask you to consider putting an item of clothing that you don’t use back into circulation, perhaps as a donation or as part of a clothing exchange — unless you really could use a new t-shirt, in which case I think you can feel free to enjoy wearing this very cool design 🙂

If you do nothing else next week, at least go for a walk in the woods, or a botanical garden near you, and notice everything around you. The diversity and richness will surprise you.

A pair of mallard ducks out foraging for food on a flooded section of Heartland Forest in Niagara Falls

All photos were taken by me and all rights are reserved. E. Jurus