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Natural Beauty

By April 20, 2023April 21st, 2023No Comments

By Hannah Richie

Photo of Hannah Richie

Hannah Richie

As I sit on the porch of my childhood home, I can hear the leaves rustling amongst the trees, the wasps I was once so scared of buzzing all around the outside of my protective screened in porch. I can see the pollen sticking to my keys as I type, and the faint rush of a river behind my home. Up my street, I can no longer see the muley grass and wildflowers as I once could. I used to walk home from my bus stop at the top of the street every day. As I walked, I would weave my fingers through the wind, mimicking the dancing leaves and wild grass. My family moved to Auburn 5 years ago, when I was in 9th grade. Our home was one of the first built on our street, Ella Grace Drive. As the years have passed, more houses have been built. As more houses have been built, the wildflowers that I loved so much have disappeared, and now only remain a facet of one of my childhood memories.

Growing up on Ella Grace Drive was beautiful. Right behind my home was an elementary school. Whenever I would sit outside, I could hear children’s laughter overlapping with the singing birds (or loud construction). In the woods between the school and my home, there was a trail that led around my street to a river. I remember once or twice when I was feeling extremely overwhelmed or something was on my mind, I would walk to the river and just sit on a rock and listen to the roar of the water over the rocks. The sound of it drowned out everything else. I told myself when I was younger that I would always go to that spot. To study, eat, relax, or even if I was just bored. But I never went more than twice. I suppose I found the comfort of the TV in my bedroom or the music pumping through my air pods was better (or just easier) than the roar of a beautiful river just a minute’s walk from my home.

When I think about Ella Grace Drive, I first remember how my home street looked when I first moved here. It was full of open lots, open land, and rolling hills of wildflowers. Now these lots have been consumed by houses. Though the houses are lovely, I cannot help but think back to the time wildflowers were in the place of long gray driveways. As time goes by nature around us slowly disappears. Even driving around Auburn, I can remember when my view outside the passenger seat window of my mother’s car was full of bright green trees and little village houses. I cannot help but ask myself, “Is the rate at which we are growing sustainable?” Sustainable is defined as, “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level” or “conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.” Sustainable is a word I have typed out hundreds of times within the past 3 years. In English and Speech classes, ideas including sustainability, gardening, and environmental awareness have always been my go-to topics of conversation. I have always cared deeply about the world around me, and always took advantage of any opportunity I could to bring attention to preserving and beautifying it.

The environment is affecting us from the food we eat to the air we breathe. It is almost daunting to consider that there are 8 billion people on our earth and each one of us needs food, water, and air to survive. Food comes from the earth. Air comes from the sky. So why isn’t humanity trying harder to protect the land and the sky? If these elements are so vital, there must be a more sustainable way to coexist with them without depleting the world around us. There must be another way to drive to the grocery store without emitting CO2. There must be another way to eat protein without worrying about emission of methane and greenhouse gases. There
must be another way to build up a neighborhood without uprooting the wildflowers and depleting the street of all its natural beauty.

Natural Beauty. A song by Neil Young that I would play on my walk to class in the mornings. As I listened to the lyrics one day and saw the sunshine through the leaves on the trees lining the sidewalk, I realized how applicable this song was to the world around me. I listened to Neil sing over and over, “A natural beauty should be preserved like a monument to nature” Nature is natural beauty. Nature should be preserved like a monument. In a growing world, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to preserve the natural beauty around us. Everyone is always moving so fast; the world is moving so fast. People, including myself, barely take time to slow down and look up to appreciate the monument of nature right before their eyes. Nature gives us air to breathe, food to eat, beauty to appreciate. In the following verse Neil sings, “Don’t judge yourself too harsh my love, or someday you might find your soul endangered.” Have we used the earth too harshly? Have we expected too much of earth to the point that it is now endangered? Nevertheless, I have hope. I find inspiration in Audrey Hepburn’s quote, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” So, I shall be encouraged, inspired, and plant a garden. Because I believe in tomorrow.

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