Although it is traditional to be Green on Earth Day, here in Carson City we broke custom and went White. We woke up to the end of a snow storm on April 22nd that left up to a couple inches of snow in some locations. This is not uncommon for northern Nevada, but it does mess with your head when you were wearing shorts and t-shirts just a few days before.
Once again, I had to dig all the winter gear out for the morning commute. Each time I put it away for the year, I’m always certain that I’ll never need it again until next December. I think this is the 3rd or 4th time I’ve had to pull it out of storage. I suited up in my fleece riding pants, pulled on the waterproof snow gloves, and headed out for work. The road conditions during April snow storms are much different than they are in the winter though. Instead of snow and ice covering the road, I had to navigate across big deep puddles that were forming around the clogged storm drains. I was glad I had packed my work pants in my waterproof pack, because I was soaked by the time I got to work.
The storm cleared up early in the morning, and the roads began to dry up. I was really itching for a mountain bike ride, so I headed for Ash Canyon to see which trails were rideable. I was pleased to find the trails mostly clear, and I didn’t have to ride through much snow until I got higher up the canyon. There were signs of the sheep by the time I got to Deer Run, but I didn’t hear them until I started climbing the Baldy Green trail. The sheep were all over the hillside making their sounds, but it was foggy so I couldn’t see them well. It made me feel miles and miles away from the basement office I was sitting in just minutes before.
As I was climbing up Ash Canyon, I was thinking of Earth Day. I started thinking of the conversation I would have with the Earth if we had a chance to sit down together. What would I ask the Earth? What would her answers be? Would she be happy to see me, or would she want to vent her frustration?
The conversation might go something like this…
Me: So, uh…hello, Mother Earth. Happy Earth Day! Are you having a good day?
Mother Earth: Um, it’s going OK…
Me: Just OK? Aren’t you grateful that a few of us are taking a whole day out of the year to honor you? I even recycled some glass and plastic today.
Mother Earth: Well, it is a nice gesture, but what about when today’s over? Will you just go back to abusing me?
Me: Abusing you, what do you mean?
Mother Earth: Well for starters you could quit polluting. You need to slow down your consumption. You need to figure out how to get along with each other. You need to remember that you’re not the only living thing on the planet. There are millions of other species on this planet besides yourself, and I love all my children the same.
Me: I’m shocked! I had no idea you were angry. Why haven’t you said anything? You should have given us a sign!
Mother Earth: Give you a sign? How much more do you need? You just don’t want to listen. War, poverty, famine, over population, pollution, climate change, resource depletion, earth quakes, tsunamis, flooding, mass extinctions…I don’t know how to get through to you people. I’m trying to keep pace with your demands, but I can’t keep up! You need to back way off. If you don’t, I won’t be able to take care of you anymore. You don’t seem to understand that you won’t be able to exist without the preservation and conservation of natural resources. You need to live in harmony with the rest of the earth.
Me: So you’re saying that celebrating Earth Day once a year isn’t enough? I’m only one person though. What change can I make?
Mother Earth: There are over 6 billion people on the Earth. Big change can happen from all of you doing little things. You just need to do them. Stop being a consumer. Become a producer. And keep riding your bike…
The daydream faded out as the trail got steeper and slipperier. The sheep have been using the trails heavily, and the trails had become slushy yellow brown with frequent piles of sheep poo to navigate around. It was fairly easy to keep clean on the climb, since my speed was low. I knew this wouldn’t be the case for the descent, so I zipped up my jacket and took one last drink from my semi-clean water bottle, taking off the cap and drinking from an unsoiled edge on the top of the bottle.
I had a great descent, carving turns and flying all the way down the mountain. My bike and pants were covered with splattered mud and sheep poo. As I neared the office I wondered to myself if this was normal behavior, and thought that I had better try to clean up a bit before going back inside. I was pretty sure I was in violation of some health code or another.
It turns out the sheep and I weren’t the only trail users out that day. The recent storm knocked down a large tree across the Creek Trail just above the rock chute. Luckily Tank the Dog and crew were on the scene quickly to remove the large obstruction and restore the flow of traffic. Thanks guys!