Sunday, May 17, 2020


"My Front Yard, Summer, 1941" by Georgia O'Keeffe
This is Cerro Pedernal, a part of the Jemez Mountains in Northern New Mexico. Its image keeps reappearing in the paintings of  Georgia O’Keeffe.  She said, “It’s my private mountain. It belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it.” After she died, her ashes were scattered there, as she had requested.  
"Ladder to the Moon, 1958"

Her statement seems almost laughable—that God would give it to her, as something to own, but the more I think about it, maybe it’s not so strange. It certainly was hers when she was alive. All she had to do was look up from her studio at Ghost Ranch, and there it was. She preserved it in painting after painting. It appears even in those paintings whose subject was not the mesa.

And perhaps she is not alone in receiving such gifts. What of this earth is given to us—not as a possession, not as a piece of property with a deed—but as a gift to be cared for?

This morning I heard part of an interview with Dave Pollard, author of the blog “How to Save the World.” He described the Earth as being in Hospice—no longer capable of being healed, only cared for as it comes to its end. Cheery news to start the day!

I cannot accept this, so I look out every day on my “Pedernal”—the aging hydrangea that is sprouting green flames of leaves, the row of leafy hostas along the back fence, the tulip tree that I planted as a sapling that now towers above the maple, and, of course, the birds—the usual visitors the sparrows, finches, and starlings, and the new visitors—the orioles and the catbirds. 

This is what has been given to me—the tiny bit of the planet for which I am responsible: to appreciate, take care of, and understand its connection to everything else--from the maple across the back fence to the rainforests of South America to  the mountains in New Mexico.

"Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. 
We all breathe the same air. 
We all cherish our children's future. 
And we are all mortal."
John F. Kennedy

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