Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Worth celebrating in 2014?

A simple first-day-of-the-year reflection, "What is worth celebrating in 2014?"

It has been said:

For me that translates to: trees, plants, birds, butterflies, my children, family, friends and parks.

Over and over, my photos repeat the theme of  land which has been "saved."  National Parks, state and city owned parks and land protected in trusts, all come to mind. But is it us who saves the the land, or this land which will ultimately save us?  

About 5 years ago I purchased a CD series for my octogenarian father.  We were about to travel across the country together and I hoped it would fill time in the car. Who knew that this epic production by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan would fill my heart as well? 

Money well spent, those CDs have been re-played many times over. Burn's prose build in me an anticipation for my next adventure, my next National Park.  Indeed, National Parks are America's Best Idea. Ask any of the numerous Europeans who have come to our country to visit these Meccas of nature: Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Cuyahoga Valley.

A Joshua Tree  (left) and rock formation at California's Joshua Tree National Park.

My latest trip to California provided an opportunity to visit the long anticipated Joshua Tree National Park. Of course, feasts of this order are best served up with friends and loved ones.

Queen of the Hill, J.J. Soski

Nearly a Nature Valley commercial: Jan and Hu Auburn

Our National Parks not only preserve the land, beauty and wildlife which makes this great country unique. Our parks also preserve many of our memories, of people and shared places. These unique sites must be kept safe for our future generations; they were already deemed worthy of protection.

Lined-up at Shenandoah National Park.
 The National Parks were closed for a brief, unfortunate period during the late summer of 2013.  When that closure was lifted, I noted people were anxious to return to our parks. This long line of eager patrons is not at the gate to Disney World or some exclusive resort.  It is the gate to Skyline Drive, the main corridor of the Shenandoah National Park, an "Eastern Park in the Western tradition."

My parents shared this park with our family when I was a mere child in the 1960's. My oldest daughter and I re-visited that experience in 2013. Unlike the rest of the world, very little here has changed.  

Shelly Soski Goodman smiles at the view 
If we value our children, our birds or butterflies, our land, it is time to protect them.  

Our natural areas, parks, beaches, forests should not be opened to the highest industrial bidder for mines, gas exploration or wind-power.  Public lands have a more valuable use for our society.  They hold our dearest shared memories, as well as our nation's greatest natural assets. Our highest and best use is to keep them intact as a gift to future generations.

Happy New Years!  What's worth celebrating in 2014? 
The National Parks are at the top of my list.   Let's all go visit a park and then, tell a politician what they mean to our family!


  1. ...great post. I loved it--inspiration to get to a few more National Parks this year! Happy New Year!

  2. Hey Cheryl, What an Insightful note about photographing what we fear losing. As I look at my own photos I realize how true that is. Can't wait to use that quote in my next talk. Also you are inspiring me to make it to more parks this year. It's just so great that you've been able to make those trips into family affairs. Thanks. In the meantime when we can't make it to these marvelous public places, I remember what someone said that " we make our own special places by being more observant where we are." Happy New Year. - hal

  3. Thank you, Kelly and Hal.
    That Ken Burn's program honestly gave me a new outlook on our parks, and the people who protect them. Whenever I feel that I am fighting an uphill battle to protect nature, I remember those who fought the battle before me: Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, F.D.R., - even Lady Bird Johnson.

    Maybe I have never understood or admired space travel because there is so much of this beautiful earth that I still want to see! CBH