Both my father and aunt were officers in local chapters of The Audubon Society. You know — the bird-watchers? Or, as I’ve been corrected — the birders? My grandmother is an avid birder. She has over 3,000 different birds on her master “Birds of the World” life checklist. This should impress you if you know anything about birding. I don’t. I was disappointed to find out that number is well below half of the 9,000 some odd total. Then she informed me it would raise a birder’s eyebrows. I guess I thought she’d have more. I mean, she is 94. And she’s been all over the world. Literally. She’s even looked for birds in Madagascar. The real place, not the movie!
The point is, my family likes birds. I’ve been in the car any number of times when my grandmother (or any family member, really) has hollered for whoever was driving to pull over so everyone could pile out and count the number of winged things flitting about in some ditch.
But it’s not just birds. It’s also bobcats, timberwolves, gopher tortoises, sea turtles, manatees or any other creature of the wild, particularly if it’s endangered. We like to save things. My father saved manatees attracted by the warm waters into power plants and relocated hawks or eagles off power lines when he headed up the environmental department of Florida Power & Light years ago. My stepmother is the director of a local nature center. She educates children at her nature camp and leads sea turtle walks on the beach so the public can see nesting females. She and my father have an owl cage in their backyard and frozen mice to feed it in the freezer. They were married in a swamp (nature preserve.)
So with roots like these, it’s no wonder this past week’s DVD rental, The Lorax, had me in tears. A girlfriend called partway through it. “Are you watching a cartoon again?” For the record, it’s not a cartoon. It’s an animation.
And, in truth, as far as animations go — it’s no Pixar. The techniques weren’t new or unique, the writing wasn’t paticularly clever and there were no catchy musical numbers. But, the message got me. I was boo-hooing by the time the last truffela tree was chopped down and the sad bears, hacking birds and oily fish were sent away by the Lorax (voice of Danny DeVito.)
I’m passionate about the environment, yes. But, unlike most of my family, I don’t feel it’s what I’m here to do. So, I’ll do the next best thing: write about it. The power of the pen.
The reason your children or grandchildren (or you yourself) should see this environmentally themed film is so we’re not raising a bunch of uncaring, money-hungry citizens of Thneedville. I see it coming in the recent Play 60 campaign done by the NFL. Children are so busy playing with Game Boys and Wii dancing that they have to be reminded to go outside! We had to be told repeatedly it was time to come in! I remember entire imaginary rooms where I played for hours in the giant ficus trees that surrounded my childhood home. How many trees are there in your neighborhood that are even climbable?
I promised myself when I started this blog that I wouldn’t get too political. But, since Superstorm Sandy, most sane people have accepted global warming as fact now, right? Even the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek reported “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.”
So, I’ll end this post with a call to action. Get on the “going green” bandwagon. I’m not the Lorax, but I do what I can. Educate your children, change your ways. Volunteer your time or give your money. There are some great organizations like The Nature Conservancy or Environmental Defense Fund that are dedicated to protecting our natural places and its creatures. And remember the wise words of the good doctor…
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”