There is a new age theory from the 1970s called the Gaia Principle. The basic idea is that the earth is a living organism that will adapt as it needs to in order to survive. It is a cool metaphor if not actually credible science.
I must admit that I have had a real complicated relationship with Mother Earth since becoming a farmer. Given my background, I just couldn’t handle that there was just so much of this farming business over which I was allowed to have absolutely no control. And it made me nuts. Over the years, I have repeatedly cursed her and berated her, stomped around in the mud throwing tantrums at her.
Then, on the other hand, I have had the experience of plowing a field. When you drop the plow and drag it through the ground, as it gives way and curls over – it actually glows. I swear. It is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. And it’s just dirt. Actually, its soil – as I was once corrected. Farmers never refer to it as dirt. I was told a real farmer respects Mother Earth, no matter how miserable she may make us sometimes.
These days you are hearing more and more that Mother Earth is now, in fact, adapting and responding to a particularly noxious and stubborn parasite – us. You hear people say that Mother Earth wants us gone – like now. Climate change, though we are doing our best to help it along, was just taking too long. So now here comes coronavirus. Yeah, after nuclear waste and landfills and holes in the ozone and floating islands of plastic in the oceans, it is not hard to imagine that maybe she really is done with us this time.
That said, this Wednesday, April 22, 2020, is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. I have learned to respect Mother Earth like I have learned everything else in this business…the hard way. The art in farming is preparation and carefully controlling the things you can control and then attentively reacting and responding to the rest. And doing so in ways that are as gentle as possible on the land and water and air realizing that none of those things are inexhaustible commodities. And having enough understanding and respect to call it soil, or better yet…Earth.
Happy Earth Day, Everybody…