S is for Soil.
Today is Earth Day and 2015 has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Soils. The purpose of this year-long focus is to raise awareness of why soils are important for food security and the ecosystem.
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN estimates that a third of all soils are degraded, due to erosion, compaction, soil sealing, salinization, soil organic matter and nutrient depletion, acidification, pollution and other processes caused by unsustainable land management practices.
Soil is considered “the skin of the Earth” and is the mixture of minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids, and countless organisms that support plant life. Soil has four primary functions: it is a medium for plant growth; a means of water storage, supply and purification; a modifier of Earth’s atmosphere; and it is a habitat for organisms all of which modify the soil.
The fact that so much of our soil is degraded is a source of serious concern.
I was hoping to spend some time in my garden today. It’s early days with the tulips just beginning to flower, and I still have some winter clean up to finish. But alas, I awoke to a dusting of snow (really Spring?!) so I think I’ll be postponing my hands-in-the-soil work until it warms up again.
Normally one of the ways I celebrate Earth Day is sending out a limited-edition zine or booklet I’ve created. But having been away on retreat earlier this month has really thrown my schedule into an inordinate state of chaos. And so today, on Earth Day itself, I think I’ll begin the project. Sounds perfect to me. It’s my version of a love letter to Mother Earth herself.
I think I’ll also spend time contemplating this wonderful prayer/poem by Megan Boyd:
All you creatures with wings,
Eagle and Bee,
Ichneumon Fly and Wren,
as you fly on our Mother’s breath,
I, your little sister,
carry my heartbeat morning prayer
in your wingbeat:
“How I love you —
How I thank you —”
Carry it up to our Mother’s lap,
carry it into our Father’s ear,
tree times around
the belly of the Earth.
I aspire to have all my footsteps on this beloved Earth be little prayers of love. And I think Dear Fool feels that way as well.
What about you? What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day? Are you a gardener? Love having your hands in the soil? Wonder why our planet is called Earth instead of Ocean? As delighted as I am to consider soil as the “skin” of the Earth? Do tell – you know I love to hear.