Kim Gaffett’s Ocean Views: Earth Day meets Poetry Month

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 7:15pm

Everything is Going to be All Right

How should I not be glad to contemplate the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window and a high tide reflected on the ceiling? There will be dying, there will be dying, but there is no need to go into that. The poems flow from the hand unbidden and the hidden source is the watchful heart. The sun rises in spite of everything and the far cities are beautiful and bright. I lie here in a riot of sunlight watching the day break and the clouds flying. Everything is going to be all right.

— Derek Mahon

It is hard not to see art in nearly every glimpse of nature. Of course the list of earth’s wonders are endless: star-studded skies, raspberry sunrises, metamorphosis of caterpillars and tadpoles, birds of paradise dances, fruit fragrance, osprey chicks pecking out of an egg, snail shells, singing orcas, changing camouflage of octopuses and chameleons, clouds and more clouds, deafening spring peepers, marsupial pockets and hummingbird nests, red-hot spewing lava and blue-cold glacial crevasses, unfolding irises, moon rises, sunsets, and azure seas. And the human psyche can not resist describing and comprehending these earthly wonders in any number of artful ways from the artists’ pallet, to the written and spoken word, and beyond to physical expressions of dance, sculpture and in film.

April is National Poetry Month; and, earth’s beauty and wonder have long been natural themes for poetry.

April 22, 2020 will be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Envisioned by Senator Gaylord Nelson the first Earth Day was meant to use the energy of the anti-war protest movement to focus attention on the need for environmental protection of the earth from wanton pollution — especially in the air and water environments. Since that first Earth Day in 1970 the focus of this civic annual celebration has evolved to encompass protection of the environment globally, to promoting recycling, to developing clean energies to counteract global warming and to take on the world-wide issues of climate change. Now, 50 years later, the original work by Sen. Nelson and his ally Denis Hayes, has grown into what is “…widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and provoke policy changes.” Earth Day has grown beyond the efforts of a few U.S. senators and organizing staff, into a global effort coordinated by Earth Day Network. To learn more about this organization go to: earth-day-50th-anniversary.

The hope of Earth Day Network is that on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day a billion people — world-wide — will take some action on April 22 to protect and/or recognize the ongoing need to protect the earth from its single greatest threat: climate change. Earth Day Network’s signature 2020 initiative — “Earthrise” — is an intergenerational global movement for climate action that will mobilize millions around the world on April 22, 2020.” Earthrise is suggesting four categories of action: trash and plastic pollution clean-ups, community science initiatives (Earth Challenge 2020), efforts to reduce climate changing actions associated with food systems, and Artists for the Earth — a campaign to engage artists in all disciplines to use their art to “express our common humanity.”

Please join the celebrations of Earth Day on Block Island. There is a myriad of options, limited only by one’s imagination. For starters, you can participate in an established community science project — with social distance, of course. Here’s how: Take one or more nature walks — solo, or with your immediate family — and observe, record and submit your observations in the following categories of on Block Island community science projects: count seals hauled out (or in the water) at low tide (2 p.m.); or, observe osprey nesting or mating activities (where, how many osprey, do they have a nest, carrying food, etc.); or create a bird list during the day, recording when, where, what species, and how many birds you saw (this can be done during a walk or out your window looking at a bird feeder.) The easiest way to report your data and observations is to send them to However, if you want to start your own community science project check out Earth Day Net’s Earth Challenge 2020 project ( ) or contact me for suggestions and guidance.

If nature science is not your bailiwick, then celebrate Earth Day with any type of artistic expression: sand drawing, dance for the earth, sketching, journaling, compose a song, photography, film a wild animal, and, of course, poetry is a nice place to start.