March 23, 2014
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It felt like a separate universe. Secluded, beautiful, humming with life. I never realized the true peace nature could give your heart until I spent a spring afternoon in the first grade exploring my backyard creek. Sparkling water licked at my toes and soft light streamed through the green canopy. Shadows of small animals danced across the dirt bank. The scene gave my heart a lightness it had never known. By the fourth grade, I had sworn the creek was my safe haven. Sealed off from the world, it ran for miles between the backyards of separate blocks, boarded by fences and known to very little. “Backyard Adventures” became my new favorite game to play. After school each day I would sprint, little legs flying, to the worn hole in my family’s metal fence. I was an explorer. On hands and knees I would crawl along the dirt bank until I got to the water’s edge, where I could marvel at the life that teemed underneath the water’s surface. Tadpoles, fish and lizards- my little creek had it all. With careful pen strokes in a leather bound book I immortalized these creatures, sketching every detail of their physique and making notes alongside the drawing. Being in such great connection with a part of nature gave me a sense of inner calm that I knew could not be replicated.

As I grew older, the creek transformed before my eyes. Harsh storms and backyard renovations stole some of my lush, green canopy. Dry summers evaporated portions of its babbling brooks into thin air. The water that remained slowly collected debris thrown by careless hands over the fences and became a display of beer bottles and dirty candy wrappers. Anger raged within me. My little creek, pure and natural, within a few short years, was stripped of its beauty and diminished to nearly nothing. Something beautiful became a mirror of the damage we’ve done to our world as a consumer society.

If we recklessly continue down the dangerous path we’ve been on, polluting the air with our chemicals and natural habitats with our waste, our actions will be the ultimate cause of our demise. Instead of creeks, tributaries will dry up. Instead of tadpoles dying out from an insufficient environment, it will be entire populations of creatures central to our ecosystem, like bison or honeybees. My little creek could not be saved, but it’s not too late to start saving other parts of our earth. The earth is so kind to us- it gives us air to breathe, water to drink, land to walk on. It’s time we gave back to the place that provides us so much. Recycle avidly. Throw out your waste in the proper bins and don’t litter. Cut down on plastic around the home. Replace your old light bulbs with new, ecofriendly ones instead.

I want to show my children water teeming with life, not just sketches of it in a worn out leather bound book. I encourage everyone to go out and have adventures in nature. Maybe the rich diversity and beauty we find in nature will convince us of the necessity of saving it. We need to take a break from materialism and the technology that consumes us and this planet. There are only so many places technology and words can touch, and one of them is not the heart.

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