As the weather gets warmer and spring flowers are blooming, I especially enjoy walking around my neighborhood to see all the lovely gardens. And since every physical therapist I speak to tells me to walk every day, even if it is just for 15 minutes, I make a point to go for walks between 30-45 minutes when my strength allows.
Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day, with temperatures over 60 degrees around 10 in the morning. So I did my warm-up exercises, put on my walking shoes and headed out the front door.
I chose a route that took me past my favorite gardens so I could see what was blooming and what was just sprouting out of the ground. I saw tulips and daffodils and hyacinths blooming, pink and white magnolia trees flowering, and a large cherry blossom tree in bloom that I had never seen blooming before. There was an audible sound of bees buzzing at the cherry blossom tree, and I stood to look at the beauty and listen to the bees when I passed by.
Also on my walk I saw a fair amount of random trash. A plastic bag here, a bottle there, a cup here, a can there. Most yards were mostly clean, but near the curb there were bits of garbage and trash everywhere I walked.
So when I got home, I made a decision. Since Earth Day is coming, I would give a present to the Earth (and myself and my neighbors) and clean up the neighborhood. I got 2 large plastic bags, my picker-upper tool, and I retraced my walk AGAIN, this time picking up trash. What usually took 30 minutes without stopping became a 90 minute walk as I stopped to pick up every piece of plastic, paper, or metal trash along my route. I filled one bag with trash, and the other bag with recyclables -- mostly plastic cans, bottles, & cups. And before I got home, the bags were full and so heavy that I had to stop before I finished cleaning up along the last street.
So today when it was time to take my walk, I went in reverse to complete the trash collection. And I received several unexpected gifts.
First, when I passed a yard where a woman was gardening, she saw what I was doing and said, "Bless your heart." That felt nice, to be blessed. Someone else had blessed me yesterday as I started out on my mission -- a rabbi from down the street drove past me with my bags and my picker-upper tool and said, "God bless you."
Then on my return today, as I walked down the street that I had just cleaned of bits of trash, the same woman who had said 'Bless your heart' handed me a bunch of daffodils from her garden and said, "Thank you for cleaning up the neighborhood." I answered with, "Oh, this is so sweet. You are welcome." I had wanted to give the Earth and the neighborhood a present for Earth Day, and I received some of the bounty of the Earth in return.
In actuality, I prefer to think that every day is Earth Day, rather than one day a year, and I express my gratitude every day for what the Earth offers us. It was wonderful to receive the gifts of words and flowers. I didn't expect them, and I didn't need them, but they were wonderful gifts and acknowledgments from the Universe that when we give of ourselves, we also receive.