As we have now sprung our clocks forward (mayhap for the last time?), my thoughts turn to this season, well captured by my favorite comedian Robin Williams, who said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying: ‘Let’s party!’” Or, as my fellow columnist Sierra Cain said in these pages last week, “The sunny days encourage us to feel the edge of spring and can make us antsy to start planting.”
My family spent the first day of spring turning our garden, finally removing the vestiges of plants grown the year prior, while talking about the connected threads of spring, Easter and the coming Earth Day, happening this year on April 22, with the international theme, “Invest in the Planet.”
My wife, Yvonne, suggests that perhaps we celebrate stories of treasured eggs and the return of green things as a way of showing the human need for annual renewal, each awakening with the spring in our own way, getting ready for the sower’s hard work followed by the fall harvest.
Or, as my 10-year-old granddaughter, Lilli, wryly put it, “Maybe it just means things are waking up and the wind will blow for a while before it gets hot.”
While wind is certainly a typical bedfellow of the arrival of spring in New Mexico, the season connects to many other connected currents. From Afghanistan to Ukraine, families celebrate the spring equinox as the beginning of their new year, Nowruz. Similarly, Jewish communities celebrate Purim as a community triumph over adversity.
Easter, too, is a celebration of rebirth and rejuvenation, setting the stage for coming plantings and harvests. We are revived after the cold winter months to begin anew, but to what end, we might ask? In the Judeo-Christian world, “Tend it and watch over it,” is one of many calls to stewardship.
Enter the spring-time celebration of Earth Day, which began here in America on April 22, 1970, as U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson pushed for a special day when Americans could embrace stewardship of our natural world. Ever since, Earth Day has emerged not only as a yearly international celebration of the sacredness of Mother Nature and all her many denizens, but also as an urgent call for individuals to advocate for finding a better balance between human development and activities and protection and enhancement of the natural world.
To me, Easter speaks of a beloved and faithful Son of God-defying death, while Earth Day tells of a planet that needs our care. To reconcile the two messages, to make them work together for the good of our planet and all who live here, we may need to heed that call of tending and watching over our Earth, in a world where we are active in securing healthy places for the generations to come.
Don’t we all feel compelled to give back to the land we call home? How can we reciprocate being in receipt of the blessing of a beautiful world?
Maybe it’s a matter of listening to ourselves, focusing on a conservation issue that especially calls to us, and pursue that issue in a way that makes a contribution, and maybe even a difference.
Maybe you have a project in mind to collect and use rain water, or maybe to finally propagate that field with those native wildflowers?
Or perhaps, you want to share your passions with local kids, and join one of our outdoor education tours at the Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area. How can we reciprocate?
One option is to come learn with us: Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday, April 22, and Saturday, April 23, please join us at Whitfield’s third annual Earth Day / Science Fair Fiesta. We’re expecting more than a dozen partners with information booths, all supporting this year’s Earth Day theme, “Investing in the Planet,” as we focus on how we can leverage science, technology, and more to care for the Earth. Please join us in this community-focused, family-friendly event.
In parting, please save the date — May 7 for a public listening session the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District will host to hear from our local community members as we build plans together for the Rio Abajo Conservation Area, a unique 150-acre start-up property of the district, located three miles due south of the Whitfield preserve.
More information will be forthcoming as the date gets closer-. Contact us with any questions or ideas and visit ValenciaSWCD.org.
(Andrew Hautzinger is the district director of the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District.)
Andrew Hautzinger, guest columnist
Andrew Hautzinger has been the district director for the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District since 2020. Prior to that, he was a volunteer VSWCD board member for 12 years and spent many years volunteering at the Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area.
Hautzinger has a bachelor of science in watershed sciences from Colorado State University. He worked for more than 27 years as a federal hydrologist working for agencies within the Department of Interior including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. National Park Service, and for the final 20 years of his career, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ National Wildlife Refuge System.