Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wasting nature's beauty

Each summer, my family would take two vacations. The first to see our grandparents. The second, to go camping.

Often this involved a trip to Colorado, but we also were blessed to have a few excursions to Yellowstone National Park. Yes, it meant an extra day of driving - both ways - for three frustrated children crammed in the back seat of the car. With no air conditioning. Listening to Peter, Paul and Mary for hours on end.

But the trip was always worth it. Words can't do justice for the amazing sights a person can see at Yellowstone. We saw the park, charred the year after the fires. We saw its beauty as wildlife started to return.

But we the stop prized most was the one to see Old Faithful and Morning Glory. If you've never had the opportunity to see either, Old Faithful is an incredible geyser that used to shoot off like clockwork on the hour. Or at least it used to.

Now, it shoots off anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, due to earthquakes and vandalism.

Morning Glory Pool is a thermal pool that used to be a deep blue. It's still beautiful, but it's changed.

Years of trash, rocks, coins and more that were just thoughtlessly tossed into the pool have had significant effects. The natural vents were blocked, impacting water circulation, accelerating the loss of thermal energy and dropping its temperature. Orange and yellow bacteria that used to be on the outside of the spring is spreading toward its center.

It's been more than a decade since I've last been back to Yellowstone, and I wonder how things have changed. And I wonder what it will be like when my children are old enough to truly experience and appreciate its wonders.

Here's what amazes me about this world. We can watch nature's beauty in its finest and toss our trash right into it.

If we can't look nature straight in the eye and appreciate and respect God's creation, what is wrong with us as a people?

In a few short weeks or months, the signs of spring will start to return. Flowers will bloom. Trees will bud. Greenness will return.

And as that happens, take a moment to appreciate the beauty around you. And think of ways to preserve it for those around us.

Maybe it's as simple as planting a tree. Or participating in a trail clean-up day at a state park. Or visiting a lesser-known national park to experience the quiet and the wonder, away from the traffic of the more popular parks. Go for a hike in the spring. Go for a hike now - and enjoy the beauty of winter. Enjoy the beauty of this world, away from the traffic, the subdivisions, the headaches.

Get back to where we came from, and see for yourself the reasons why we're trying to be more environmentally friendly.

And please, if you have to carry something with you, be responsible with your trash. A little slice of the world depends on you.

My contribution for this month's APLS carnival on Nature and the Environment. Read other thoughts on the subject on Feb. 20 at the Green Phone Booth.

Photos from the National Park Service.


bhelenj said...

By the way, our cars had air conditioning in our cars ever since the blue Maxima. That was the car that Becky walked on the back seat with fresh tar on her feet when we were in Yellowstone. So she was pretty small to actually walk on the seat.

Walking Green said...

Lovely. We are camping in a few weeks at Edisto Island and taking part in volunteer activities to clean the beach.

I now carry a box of trash bags, a bucket and gloves in my car so that we can clean up if necessary. I am getting ready to start documenting with photos.

Daphne Gould said...

That is so sad about morning glory pool. I was there about 30 years ago and in the winter when barely anyone is there. It was so beautiful.

Donna said...

I visited Yellowstone as a child and then my husband and I went back maybe 7 years ago. It was one of our best vacations ever. It's a crime, though, what people have done to some of the geysers & pools! In other ways, the park is recovering. The bison are back -- we had to wait half and hour for a herd to slowly cross the road in front of us. I don't remember there even being bison in the park when I was a child.

Thanks for sharing your memories & photos.

Jenni at My Web of Life said...

Your post is a great reminder that while it is good for us to get out into nature, especially with our children, we need to remember to handle it with care.

I have a really hard time going back to visit my home town in Colorado. Fields that I leisurely played in as a child are now subdivisions.

Depressing, but also a call to action.

Robbie said...

Jenni, I understand completely. I remember the time I went back to see my parents, and one of the fields I used to play in now housed a McDonalds. Homes I could cope with. McD's seemed like a complete violation!

Donna, I'm not sure I'm too thrilled about the bison being back. One of my family's favorite stories was when I opened the door to leave the restrooms and their was a buffalo's backside right there! :)

I love everyone's reminiscing of their journeys to Yellowstone. Keep them coming!

Green Bean said...

Right on post!! We too visited Yellowstone and many of the western parks as a child. It really is so heartbreaking to see how we as a species treat something so magical and irreplaceable.

Steph @ Greening Families said...

Thanks so much for the reminder that we need to both appreciate the beauty in nature and also work to protect it.

Walking Green, I love your idea of carrying trash removal tools in your car. My kids always want to pick up the trash we see - now we can be prepared!