Not one to be overshadowed by the COVID pandemic, Earth Day 2021 didn’t let us forget who was boss. Unlike Valentine’s Day, which flew under the radar because restaurants weren’t open for indoor dining, and St. Patrick’s Day, which boasts pretty much no COVID-safe associated activities, Earth Day has myriad options for making its presence known. Ever a show-off, Earth Day chose to make a statement this year.
Earth Day started its minor holiday dominance campaign in earnest in the wee hours on Thursday, with winds that scattered outdoor furniture to new arrangements — perfectly socially distanced ones. When one patio chair is out by the woodshed and the other is pressed up against the chicken coop, the chances of the two chairs’ occupants transmitting COVID to each other are quite slim.
After the windstorm, the sun ushered in a classic warm spring day and out popped the serviceberry blossoms. It’s one of my favorite days of the year; all is as usual when I drive to work in the morning; when I drive home, the landscape is transformed by the riot of little white blooms. The serviceberry, added to the arrowleaf balsamroot that were just beginning to dust the green hills gold, reinforced Emerson’s observation that “Earth laughs in flowers.”
But it was late Thursday evening when Earth Day gave us its biggest gift: precipitation. Given the summers we’ve experienced here over the past six years, I’d wager that few people even considered complaining when they woke to a drizzle on Friday morning, and those who voiced such traitorous thoughts immediately sought forgiveness. (And for those of you who didn’t, it’s not too late.)
Saturday’s rain may have soaked the shoes of the racers in the Sunflower run, but it certainly didn’t dampen their moods. Not only did Earth Day deliver perfect running weather (or have you already forgotten those 80-degree race days of yore, inhaling the dust of the runners ahead of you, counting the miles until the next water station?), but the rain cleaned up those wildflowers something fierce, until each one glistened with individual beads, each raindrop iridescent against a silky balsamroot petal, a tapering spear of lupine, a spiky larkspur.
When the skies cleared a little on Sunday morning, Earth Day showed us the side hustle it had taken on while spackling the valley with rain the day before: frosting the distant peaks of the Sawtooth and Pasayten wilderness areas with snow. The stubble of new grass buzzed against a backdrop of white summits and an unsettled sky.
Earth Day wiped its brow, dusted off its hands with satisfaction, and turned to its neighbor. “Top that, May Day,” Earth Day taunted.