For the Love of the Lake

By Sage Thee

You’ve probably heard the term “eco-friendly” thrown around quite a bit, by now. (Who hasn’t heard about straws and sea turtles?) Maybe you’ve wondered what it actually means to be eco-friendly, too?

To me, to be eco-friendly is to consciously and purposefully reduce the harm we inflict upon the environment. Many eco-friendly decisions (like electric cars or natural gas) are not feasible for many of us—but that does not mean we cannot make a positive impact on and for our planet.

Growing up, I was taught to love the Earth just as much as I loved any family member. Mother Nature was, to me, an actual mother figure—a deity, even—a feeling that’s never entirely gone away. Now, I know that Mother Nature isn’t actually going to reward or punish me for the way I treat her. She is not going to wrap me up in a hug or anything, but my love for Her motivates me to treat Her kindly. In turn, small things feel much more significant. The sun feels brighter, each rainstorm feels to be a special gift just for me. It is as if, for being kind to and respecting the Earth, it is being kind to me, too.

There is no wrong way to show your love to, and for, the Earth. However, you are able to give back to this big, blue, beautiful planet is enough. “It’s the thought that counts” is especially applicable here! Maybe you can’t afford an eco-friendly vehicle, or solar panels—so what! If you care for the Earth, and you are doing what you can when you can, that is what matters.

My grandparents shared a strong mutual love for the Earth; something they bonded over for nearly 46 years. Throughout my life, they’ve shown this love in different ways. My grandmother shows hers by doing what she can to keep our planet clean, and urging everybody she knows to do the same. My grandfather showed his love by spending as much time as he could enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, and by preserving each life he could, because every life on this Earth was precious to him—I do not think I ever saw him kill a spider, and whenever we got mice in the winter, he would trap and release them instead.

There is nobody that enjoyed a day at the lake quite like my grandpa. Some of the childhood memories I cherish most are of the days my grandpa would wake me up at the crack of dawn to drive to his favorite place, Strawberry Reservoir, to fish. He would stand there with his fishing pole, more content than I ever thought possible for any one person to feel, waiting for the bullheaded catfish to bite. (And when they finally did, he always let them go). I never cared much for the fishing itself; but I knew, even as a small boy far more concerned with the cool rocks and bugs, that fishing with my grandfather would be something that I would hold close in my heart for the rest of my life.

So, I urge you to please do your part to ensure our planet has a long and healthy life so that grandsons and grandfathers can continue to spend priceless days fishing under the sun for generations to come.