note to self: Earth Day is more than a Hallmark holiday

22 04 2009

For once, Earth Day actually means more to me than just seeing the “Today Show’s” colors ripen from yellow to green for a week or Walmart’s new green ad campaign spread the word of “if all 200 million Walmart shoppers buy [this product], then [the planet will be saved]” (as if we all need one reusable cup for the office, another for the home, another for the car–what next–one for the  garage, beside the bed, restroom because we’re a bunch of stupid lazy mo-fus that can’t take a cup with us from point A to point B? And if all 200M shoppers buy a Bissell carpet cleaner, even though they don’t really need it, what kind of destruction are we doing on the earth then?  How much oxymoronic “clean coal” does it take to manufacture the crap we impulsively buy into each time we step into the Big Box?).  Ridiculous. 

Anyway, today is different.  You see, Monday, around noon, I heard an owl hooting two houses down.  No big deal right?  Well, it is a big deal.  Aside from the fact that I’m fascinated with birds right now as I’m currently writing a book on them, owls don’t often hoot during the day; they’re night birds.  An old wives tale says that if you hear an owl outside your window during the daytime, it means death is coming.  I thought nothing of this superstition and simply appreciated the rare song and continued on with my day.  The next morning I was on my porch sipping my coffee and spotted an owl perched in an old oak tree across the street.  I pulled out the binoculars and saw that he was transfixed on my neighbor’s house, two houses down.  I checked on him several times throughout the day to find him stationed in the very same spot every time, watching the same house.  Later in the day, I learned the news that my neighbor, two houses down, died in her bed that morning.

I know it sounds kinda hokey but really it’s as if the owl knew some one in that house would pass away and even stayed to keep watch over my neighbor as she passed on.  I spoke with my next door neighbor, a wise-old-owl type of woman (no pun intended), about the phenomenon and she said she was aware of the owl over the last two days and she said she firmly believed animals know way more than we do.  Naturally. 

So the lesson I’ve learned from this is that maybe all the “stuff” in nature is not really “stuff”.  It’s certainly not “stuff” like the inanimate objects we pick up from the store or the distant and abstract stories we see on TV, but instead living, thinking, thriving beings involved in the complicated ecology of the world, the circle of life, along with all of us.  And we have much to learn.