There are few events that take place at exactly the same moment everywhere in the world, so I am cherishing this morning of the Summer Eclipse with the regard it deserves. It helps me when I raise my thoughts to a universal level, and the solstice being an actual physical event lifts me even higher.
So far my day has been filled with unusual gifts – a pair of large birds I hadn’t seen here before came coasting over
the valley and passed close enough to our balcony for me to see they were Ibis and even get a video. A full-white pigeon came zooming off our roof and a mocking bird perched near Frank’s blooming garden a few feet away from me. I found each of those things extraordinary as they had not happened before.
Staying attuned to nature is my greatest activity and thankfully now I have the time and place to do it and observe. From this perch and perspective I can “see” how the National Parks have affected my view of our country and the world.
“He or she is a better citizen, with a keener appreciation for the privilege of being an American, who has visited the national parks,” paraphrasing former National Park Service Director Robert ‘Bob’ Stanton. So true.
This is why I cannot and will not stop raising our beloved national parks as part of the solution for America’s challenges.
WHO can look at the iridescent formations in the Grand Canyon and not give thanks for having eyes to see? (We’ve met people at the canyon who were losing their sight and had their wish to see it before that happened granted by a foundation.)
WHO can look at the boiling pits of Yellowstone and not marvel at the precision of the natural mechanism in the bowels of the Earth that causes Old Faithful to erupt at regular intervals down to the minute? (This encouraging report from the Union of Concerned Scientists USA tells what we can still do reduce climate risks.)
WHO can look at the cave dwellings at Bandelier National Monument and not respect the people who lived there more than 1,000 years?
The National Park System puts our lives in perspective as the historic sites, monuments and battlefields show the full spectrum of actions across every racial and ethnic group that combined to get us where we are today.
Increased visitation to our national parks can result in issues of crowding and questions about whether or not people get the true “park experience.” The opportunity to make a personal connection with the natural world or with a historical occurrence is what it’s all about for me.
I do not doubt that there are some people who may not be pleased with minority groups’ increased visitation to the parks. In the 1990s some people wrote baldly, “We come out here (to the parks) to get away from the problems caused by urban minorities,” and “We don’t want them out here.” Less insulting people worried about the overcrowding and unspoken, “the trashing of parks” they dreaded.
I want to remind everyone that there are 63 national parks in the National Park System not just the Top Ten that most people know. There are 360 other units that include national seashores and rivers among them. To top it off, we also have outdoor recreation available in other federally protected lands including the National Refuge System, part of the collection of lands and waters managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
With a population of approximately 332 million people, we have approximately 630 million acres of federally managed lands, much of it dedicated to our recreation while also welcoming millions of foreign tourists.
Clearly one necessary response to the overcrowding issue is for federal land managers to share the smorgasbord of playgrounds that they manage for the American people. To “allow others at the national parks and outdoors table,” all we need do is have the will to show how large the table is, and invite “others” in.
May the pivot of the Earth today stimulate a pivot in our hearts away from separation and back to the Oneness of the human family, made so evident in our national parks and publicly-owned lands. Bless you, my fellow park lover!
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