It’s a long drive from Whidbey Island to Portland, Oregon. And even in a Prius, it’s not the most environmentally friendly way to spend the one day out of the year dedicated to conserving resources and doing your part to protect the planet. But this year was not your typical Earth Day, and I was on my way to fulfill a few promises.
As a volunteer at the refuge, I had started a Book Club focused on nature. Before leaving the refuge, I assured the regular attendees that I would be back and we could still plan our meetings accordingly. And when I “graduated” from the Naturalist training class, I made more promises to visit and give back to the beautiful community of the refuge that had given me so many gifts of knowledge and experiences.
I was somewhat regretful that I’d be missing out on all the activities planned for Whidbey Island. I didn’t count them all up, but I think there was upwards of 30 different activities planned all over the island from Langley to Deception Pass that covered Earth Day and throughout the weekend. But as Robert Frost said, “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep”. There’s always next year, and I was able to attend some amazing events earlier last week, not to mention there are still a couple of events later this week to attend as well.
I had anterior motives for my visit to Oregon as well. Just before I left Oregon, I was notified by Noodles and Company that my “business” card was drawn to receive a free dinner for six catered by them. I had it arranged that I would pick up the dinner, and I anticipated that we would have a great free meal to go along with Earth Day. The amount of food provided was astronomical, and I was able to even bring home more than half of it for me and the hubby to eat this coming week.
But I forgot how much I missed the refuge. The refuge’s resident eagles are settled in their new nest and it was confirmed that they are sitting on an egg. I hope the next time I visit I will be able to catch glimpses of the eaglet. The lupine was in full bloom there, even though it isn’t quite ready for display up here yet. And the regular rovers and volunteers that remember me and asked me how things were going in Whidbey reminded me that I did make connections in Oregon.
I started my visit with an Earth Day Book Club. We discussed the book “Seeds of Hope” by Jane Goodall, and talked about all the aspects that she wrote about plants and conservation. My short time on Whidbey and this particular book have helped change the way I think about plants. Most folks think of Jane Goodall as just a primatologist, but she delves into her past and reveals that her early childhood led her to be a conservationist at heart, whether it be for trees or chimpanzees. Plus, as she puts it, without trees, there won’t be any chimpanzees to study. Before “Seeds of Hope” I always considered conservation about wildlife and their environment. I did not consider the plants themselves as objects of conservation efforts in and of themselves. I already was aware of rainforest destruction in Asia, Africa, and South America, but I didn’t consider the individual species of trees. I considered the whole ecosystems together if trees were part of the conversation. But after reading about the individual species and how efforts are being made to protect the biodiversity of certain species, I have changed my tune a bit. Having explored the Pacific Rim Institute’s trails in Coupeville and seeing their work with the Golden Paintbrush, an endangered species that is being given special attention at the Institute, I really began to understand the importance of conserving plant species for their role in the the ecosystem AND for their uniqueness and beauty for the sake of biodiversity.
The remainder of the weekend would be all about plants, as I was going to help do interpretive stations during the refuge’s Native Plant Sale. I kept in practice of Earth Day by eating animal friendly foods (not even eggs). And I celebrated a special day with some special friends. Not your typical Earth Day, but a good one and one to remember!