Ways of Seeing by Leeya Tudek: Spring beauty belies big problems

Spring always comes late to Lincoln, the delay only making its arrival more glorious. All in the first warm day it seems, the apple trees flower, the grass greens and dandelions explode yellow across the meadows. The barn swallows cut through the air chasing after gnats, garter snakes bask in the heat, and wood frogs continue their mellowed peeping from the forest.
The earth awakens with a new energy, spreading vitality like pollen on the wind. Each year of my life, when the trees bud and the air sweetens, I feel a kind of peace.
When I was in elementary school, a girl my age from New York City stayed with my family for a week. She had never spent much time outdoors, but she was excited to kayak and horseback ride, and to experience the countryside. While hiking up near Lincoln Gap one afternoon, we reached a ledge and, looking out, she asked me a question:  “Why are some patches of the trees dark and some of them light?”
I looked out and at first I didn’t comprehend what she meant. I was so surprised. “Those are the shadows of clouds,” I answered.
I never told her, but that moment became one of the strongest memories from my childhood because it so fiercely represented growing up here. Our lives were so different, no better or worse, but it made me grateful to have played in the rivers, planted gardens, and to simply know that the dark spots on the forest were cloud shadows.
We who live closely to this exquisite land are so lucky to witness the drama of seasons, the way a thunderstorm whips the trees, or the fledging of young robins. Too often we forget to be grateful for the small, unstoppable happenings of nature like the unfurling of a fiddlehead fern or the secretive blooming of a lady slipper in the woods.
Too often we fail to recognize that living rurally doesn’t mean we are isolated or alone, but that we are surrounded by squirrels, trees, deer, insects and other living things. As people who have had the blessing of living amongst all of this, we have no excuse not to recognize the absolute profoundness of nature and the need to protect it.
We cannot take for granted the patterns, rhythms and tiny chaoses that happen parallel to us or they will one day be gone.
This spring, I felt the joy of another year turning. I smelled the perfume of lilacs on the warm breeze and heard the birds twittering as they settled at dusk, but underneath the peace it brought, there was a creeping sadness and an urgency.
How heartbreaking it is that we are slowly killing this earth and all the life forms on it, including ourselves. How unjust that out of human greed, species fall to extinction, deforestation and pollution scar the planet, and oceans rise.
It is the fault of humans and it is our responsibility to heal what we have wounded. To older generations who have been blessed with grandchildren, I say I want the world to remain in good enough condition that I might have grandchildren too.
So when election time for every level of government comes around, put people in office who are going to give us a future.
To my friends, whose eighteenth birthdays have been scattered throughout this year, jump on the chance to sign petitions and to vote with your newfound legality.
Just as in spring when seeds sprout and push through soil and bears rise from torpor and crawl out of dens, it is time for us to wake up.
Leeya Tudek is a seventeen-year-old student from South Lincoln. She enjoys painting, being outdoors, good conversations, and writing.

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