America the Gorgeous (Let’s Keep it That Way!)

Did you know that April happens to be National Keep America Beautiful Month? Well if you don’t, you do now- and I am here to tell you more! April is time a time of rain and growth, so it makes sense to celebrate the natural wonders of the USA, and spend some time working at keeping it beautiful. Earth Day is also celebrated on April 22, and these days, there’s a lot of attention given to the environment and garbage and conservation and all that stuff I think they were going on about in Avatar or in an Al Gore speech. But getting past all the lectures, the politics, and the movie CGI, why do we bother with saving the environment? Well, as everything grows and blooms this April, take a look around and see why we need to work to keep America looking great! And if that doesn’t work, just check out these books! Trust me, they’re a whole lot more fun than an Al Gore Power Point presentation.  (Although, if you ARE interested, the library’s got most of his books!)

                               Time of Wonder  by Robert McCloskey
Want to experience a summer in Maine without the travel bills or wandering into a Stephen King novel? Then check out this classic kid’s book about a family’s vacation in a summer house on coastal Maine, and all the adventures the kids have in the ocean and woods. The story was written in 1957, but you really wouldn’t know it reading the book. Even though the kids are missing cell phones and Wi-Fi, it could be any time, with any kids. But what makes this book a classic are the amazing pictures of Maine. They look like paintings, with details of the ocean, the waves, and the forests around the house. The kids climb rocks and ride boats, and run through the forest, seeing all the amazing landscapes around them. No matter what time period, the outdoors has not changed. It really is a place of wonder. It doesn’t have a lot of plot, but it does make you really want to put away your cell phone, and appreciate the beauty of the outdoors, whether you can make it to Maine or not.

                                                                         The Portfolios of Ansel Adams

Love photography? Love nature? Then check out the work of Ansel Adams, who was sort of the Ralph Waldo Emerson of American photography. Adams is best known for his black and white photos of the West, especially of state parks. Born in 1902, he loved nature from a young age, playing outside and collecting bugs, and he grew up to be one of the most famous photographers and conservationists in 20th-century America. Adams took TONS of pictures, many of which were at state parks in the western United States, and wow- did they turn out awesome. He really had a gift for showing the feel of a place, not just the look. There is a great shot of a giant waterfall, and I swear you can just hear the water pounding against the rocks. And another shot of a large meadow of grass with a small stream in the distance, giving the picture this intense feeling of quiet and calmness. If you want to be reminded how amazing nature could be, and how much we need to preserve it, take a look at these pictures. Ansel Adams wanted his pictures to inspire people to get outside and protect what they saw, and if these don’t make you want to head outside and snap a few picture of your own, I don’t know what will.

           America’s Natural Treasures

Ready to continue our little road trip? Well, this book takes us from coast to coast, looking at amazing sites and views from across the country. OK, the book itself is a little on the old side, but the places it shows are timeless. It also reminds you of the geographic diversity of this country, taking us from the deserts of Death Valley to the Snowy Mountains in Utah. It even has the Indiana Dunes in there, site of many an elementary school field trip. This book not only has pictures, but also lots of information on the places pictured, so that you can read about the pretty places, not just look at them. What does this have to do with keeping America beautiful? Well, books like this remind us why we should bother trying to help keep American looking great in the first place. So check out books like this, and see more of this lovely, crazy country.

April is a time of growth, and new starts. It’s as good a time as any to look around the country, and appreciate how beautiful it is. We can also look at ways to help protect it. I am not here to lecture anyone about saving the forest or anything (I’ll leave that to pretentious animated films from the 90s- or James Cameron), I just want to remind people how great the outdoors can be, and how sad it would be if it all started disappearing. While I normally would never say this, put down the books, and get outside! You can plant a tree, take a trip, or just walk by the river, just go! The books will be there when you return.  

This entry was posted in Ansel Adams, April, Keep America Beautiful, Landscapes, Natural Treasures, nature photography, Time of Wonder. Bookmark the permalink.

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