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Thank You, Earth

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

Adirondack chairs overlook Rachel Carson's favorite views, close to her cottage in Southport, Maine. Carson was a trail-blazing marine biologist and true friend to the more-than-human world.

It's easy think of all the ways humans have damaged the planet. From deforestation to pollution, we’ve marred almost every corner of the Earth. Although just as entangled in the energy webs of life as the rest of the flora and fauna we share our home with, we seem to have tipped the balance. We take and take and don’t give much back. And it must be asked, what good are we to the planet, anyway?

In her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer writes thoughtfully and beautifully about many aspects of our natural connection to the more-than-human-world and explores this question through the lens of the indigenous Potawatomi beliefs. She writes that the Potawatomi believe every part of this universe has a gift. The sun gives Earth warmth and energy. Trees cools us and work with the soil to filter our water. Our gift as humans is the ability to be thankful. It may seem like a small gesture, but giving thanks is powerful. When you give thanks to the sun that fills your house with light while you work or the trees that provide the wood for your desk or the metals in the hard drive on your computer, you begin appreciating all that the Earth has given you. And when you see the world as a generous place, full of gifts, you can whole-heartedly give back.

Gestural Live Oaks shelter and shade the street and sidewalk in Savannah, Georgia.

We have forgotten how to thank the Earth, making it easier to selfishly take much more than our share. Being thankful teaches us not to take the world for granted, but to be kind and respectful of the land that has given us everything. Imagine seeing the forests and lakes not as resources, but as gifts. The thought sits with you differently. When a friend gives you a gift, you do not treat it poorly or ask them for more and more. You give thanks and you treat the gift with kindness and respect. And when we respect our planet, we can learn to take only what we need and give back with all we can.

The Cottage of Rachel Carson in Southport, Maine.

If you get the chance, please read Braiding Sweetgrass. It will change your world and make you a better, more compassionate human being.

Photo Credit: Hills and Hamlets Bookshop

Photographs + Words by Zoe Roane-Hopkins

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