Kousa Dogwood Flowers

Our five year-old loves to decorate for holidays. Recently, she helped my mom take down Easter décor, and I overheard her ask Edie what holiday they should decorate for next. Edie declared, without a beat, “Earth Day!” My mom nodded and agreed, but said she didn’t have any Earth Day stuff. Edie was bummed.

Edie learned about Earth Day last year.To celebrate, we took a plastic bag on a walk around the block, picking up litter. It was fun to be on a scavenger hunt, cleaning up our tiny corner of the Earth. We talked about how humans have taken much of the environment and natural resources for granted. I consider myself an environmentalist, but I still drive an SUV and drink K-cups at the office, so I’m no saint. And while I’m happy Edie’s learning about her responsibility as a citizen, it’s one of those bittersweet moments when her perspective on how the world works shifts, and I feel badly for tarnishing her utopia.

I try to protect our environment, whether by voting a certain way, or bringing tote bags to the grocery store, or recycling nearly everything that leaves our house (even though, after a grad course on climate change, I realize that recycling cans and bottles is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of global policies and dubious industrial operations). But enough Debbie Downer.

Back to Edie and Earth Day. She felt proud of all the litter we cleaned up, showing the loot to her dad when we returned home, like it was a goodie bag. We then recycled or trashed the contents, and vowed to go on Trash Walks again.

We haven’t. I don’t know why. But now that Earth Day is around the corner (April 22), we decided to do something else to celebrate.

We’re going to plant a tree. I ordered one online (only $75 on fast-growing-trees.com), based on an arborist’s recommendation for our yard. It’s a Kousa Dogwood, and it’s hardy, yet beautiful with white flowers. I’ve never planted a tree but feel confident in my abilities. And, you know, YouTube. Edie asked if she could name it. So, this year, we’re decorating our yard for Earth Day. We are doing something small, very small, to improve our corner of the world.