Earth Day, 2020

Dear Liza,

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. I was in 8th grade and knew nothing about it. By the next spring, I had started high school, met your Grandpa Nelson, and gotten a new bunch of friends. We all celebrated Earth Day that year by planting African violets around what was then called The New Building at Mira Costa High School, in Manhattan Beach, California.

It felt good, being out there in the sun with other idealists, feeling we were making a difference, making the world better and more beautiful.

In the fifty years since, we have seen a lot of movement toward this ideal. Solar power, wind power, more awareness of one’s “carbon footprint”, and the idea that living closer to nature is better. Counteracting those advances are the powerful forces of corporate greed, and a current President who believes whatever his corporate buddies pay him to believe. This tug of war has been going on since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but every year it feels more desperate.

Even the cars are resting

And now, with the country mostly locked down and staying inside, what have we learned? For one thing, that many of the jobs that people have been commuting to, burning gallons of gas and creating tons of greenhouse gases, can really be done from home. We don’t have to trash the world to make a living.

I hope people take this time to re-think their habits, and see that home is good, peace is good, and that madly dashing from one place to another doesn’t make their lives better.

And that’s my soapbox speech for Earth Day, 2020.


Grandma Judy

Earth Day at University Park

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Sunday was Earth Day! Liza and I celebrated in several ways. First, we used some wonderful sunflowers given to Liza’s Mommy Olga to make a huge bouquet for the table.IMG_5030.jpg

Then we went out for a walk, to see the lovely flowers everyone has in their gardens. We walked past University Park Elementary School, the school I have worked at for 28 years, which had invited parents, teachers and families to come make the school more beautiful. Liza and I stopped by to help.

Mrs. Gaynor and Miss Nichols

Before we knew it, we had gloves on and were pulling weeds. Rakes and shovels helped, too. Mrs. Gaynor and Miss Nichols, the sixth grade teachers, were in charge of the operation and Ms Laird, our Vice Principal, was there as well. I worked with some former students, as well as younger kids who would be my students if I was teaching next year.  Valerie Beltran is the only current Dragon that I saw there. She and her Mama both worked really hard. Everyone was so helpful and friendly!


Most of the activity was focused on the garden. This area was fenced in a few years ago and equipped with planter boxes. The big school lawnmower can’t get in, so the grass grows like crazy. The planter boxes themselves were also getting overgrown and needed help.

In a different area, kids were painting wooden flowers and long green stems to be placed along the chain link fence that goes around the garden. This will make it prettier and more cheerful. Liza got to paint a flower and then came and helped me pull weeds.img_5060.jpg

At noon, Miss Nichols’ Dad and Mom, who I have known since Miss Nichols was student at University Park, made us all hot dogs for lunch. We were all so hungry, tired and sweaty! But it was fun working with old friends, and getting to know new ones.

Two young people who worked very hard were Brandon and Isabella, third graders in Mimi Nolan’s class. They worked together carrying heavy loads and pulling giant weeds. I taught Brandon’s older brother Christian, so it was nice getting to know him.

I am proud of my school for pulling together and proud my granddaughter helped out, as well.

Love, Grandma Judy