Earth Day. Oh, I know. By the time you read this, the day will be past. I could have planned a little better, and given you a chance to anticipate it, but . . .

Some three and a half millenia ago someone among us wrote that the earth was formed, and we were to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over it, and so forth, and so forth.

Then someone wrote that a garden was made in Eden, in the east. And we were put in this garden to till it and keep it.

Hmm. These two accounts were written by two different peoples, and they beautifully represent both sides of us. It is good to be reminded of this.

The one side is the self- aggrandizing  side of us that says, “Pput the earth under our knee and hold it and dominate is, so that we may use it as best seems to fit our wants and desires.”

The other side of us says nothing of the kind. It call the earth a garden, and calls upon us to till and keep it. It says there is something very, very good in us, that cares and nourishes.

And both sides are wrapped up in that same human.

Three does come out of the woods to my right, here by the Red River. They prance across my line of vision from right to left with that great animal economy to make one trail serve for three animals.

The last doe in the line stops as she comes abreast of me. Without turning her body, she twists her neck and stares fully in my direction, her great ears flattened out fully toward me. What a beautiful creature she is!

She is “looking” at me with her ears. She holds her stance, staring at me directly for long moments. She makes the human realize that some things on this earth are made just for sheer beauty. It is as if earth is a great wastrel, splashing her largess of beauty upon the yellow brick road of the human with endless abandon.

At last, to close this scene, the doe turns her head in the direction she had been going, having seen enough of me. As silently as a shadow, she disappears into the forest.

Two Canada geese swim by on the far side of the river, flashing their white cheek patch and gabbling softly and constantly, as if to say this planet would be a mighty boring place if we all were as silent as those deer. They seem to have found a quiet part of the river and are settling in as evening comes on.

They like this quiet river. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve found their nests just up from the river banks in  past years.

Mom and dad mallard swim by right down the center of the river. No little brood is coming after them yet. Earth is preparing herself in response to her great admonition, be fruitful and multiply.

James Alger, who lives in Fargo, N.D., has been a summer resident of the Leech Lake area with his family for over 45 years. Over that time he has grown to love and appreciate the people and the woodlands of this area.


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