My Demonstration

It turns out that the great love of my has been nature. Nothing and no one has given me — or asked from me — anything comparable. The photo above is of me, Dusty and my tree — it’s been my tree since I was fifteen. That tree taught me pretty much everything I have needed to know about faith, perseverance, beauty and survival. A tiny bit of it went into the ground with my dad when he was buried in Montana in 1972.

Me and Cody and my tree

Cody O’Dog and I at my tree in 2010


Back in the day, when people were marching against the War in Vietnam and all manner of things, the only demonstration in which I participated was that of the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970.

I was a senior in high school in Colorado Springs. I had my mom’s car (I don’t remember why). I ditched school with a bunch of my friends and we went to Colorado College in the center of the city. The demonstration was small compared to what I saw on TV in places like Chicago or Detroit or San Francisco. There were a few signs “Save the Earth!” and a banner painted on a sheet. It was a beautiful morning. Some people gave speeches and I don’t remember what they said. I was thrilled at the idea of a movement to clean up the world. I’d chosen the topic of my speech because I didn’t think any other issues really mattered. I’d even had a letter to the editor published in Look Magazine.

When it was over, I drove everyone back to school, doing things in my mom’s car (riding fast over dips and humps in the road trying to catch air) that probably should not have been done in a 1964 Ford Galaxie 500.

At that time, I was also wandering around the State of Colorado attending speech meets, competing in Original Oratory. In this event, student write and present 10 minute original speeches on topics of their choice. Mine was the Earth. Back then there was no EPA, and regulations on companies to protect nature did not exist. A typical day in LA was so smoggy people could not see the sun. It was feared that Lake Michigan was a dead lake. Gas was not yet unleaded; the catalytic converted had not been invented — or was being invented. I wasn’t privy to the latest news on automotive technology at the time. My speech — among other things — taught me that the best way to overcome terror of speaking in public is to believe in your message and its importance to others. It was (in part) wry and ironic, with the kind of sophistication only shared by 17-18 year olds. For example:

“Blue sky does get monotonous. The public spirited people of LA and New York have provided their populations with the opportunity to enjoy something new — a brandy colored atmosphere. Green is a dull, drab, and ugly color, and, since the Grand Canyon is such a lovely place to vacation, why not let everyone live there? Don’t plant grass and support your local bulldozer. Our recreation facilities and National Parks are getting better all the time. It’s much easier to catch a fish if it’s already dead, and with all of the beer cans scattered around Yellowstone Park, everyone feels like he’s back in his own living room.”

I took second place in the state. I was beat out by a kid with an anti-Vietnam war speech.

And I thought this song was GREAT!


But the best part of my little speech was not the part I wrote, but a quotation I took from a speech by Adlai Stevenson. I still think it says everything, and beautifully.

We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from anihilation only by the care, the work, and the love we give our fragile craft.


Butte Falls, Oregon

23 thoughts on “My Demonstration

  1. Sadly, what few governmental agencies remain charged with protecting the environment and citizens/consumers from the excesses and abuses of corporate malfeasance, waste, and pollution are so underfunded, deregulated, and hollowed out as to be almost completely ineffective. I wish some of the activist spirit of the 60s & 70s would return to our younger generations and inspire them to start frequently and loudly petitioning our government for a return to sanity and a redress of grievances.

    Why don’t I, you ask? Well, I do my own small part when able, but like too many others, so much of my time & energy is consumed just tending to my little family’s needs to allow me excess to spend on trying to make the world a better place.

    Peace, Martha. I hope you’re doing well and enjoying a mild spring in CO. Love to you & the fur babies.


    • Love to you, the Boss and the Boy and the Girl.

      Don’t despair. We’re pretty small in the grand scheme and the activism of the 60s and 70s led to THIS world, the all volunteer military and Donald Trump as much as it led to the EPA or the numerous good things we think of, plus it is a lot more effective and rational through the rose-colored glasses of time than it was in real life. 😦

      To me, people like you (and me?) who strive to help others (probation officer? Good god!!!!) and raise caring, intelligent children, and go hiking are the real heroes of life.

      “He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.” Mrs. A. J. Stanley of Lincoln, Kansas, circa 1900

  2. What a huge contrast between Adlai Stevenson and 45! I didn’t realize that the concern for the planet went back that far!

  3. I was in a college production of Hair back in ’74 or ’75. It was the first of several musicals I was in after high school. The rest were all Gibert and Sullivan: The Mikado, Patience, and The Yeoman of the Guard. I have loved singing on stage ever since.

    I thought it was incredibly cool that Earth Day and the Lyrids meteor shower were both on my birthday.

  4. Very interesting and heart-warming post, Martha. I, too, love nature, and despair of the way humans are treating the planet. It’s suicide. I love the extract from your speech – beautifully written. And I love the photo of you and your gorgeous dog by your tree. I adore old trees and the wisdom they hold. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  5. Awesome, Martha. I agree, I wished there were others that had the spirit, fortitude, motivation, desire, eagerness to protest loudly against the corruption and greed running rampant worldwide. I did what I could when I was younger, but I can’t do as much now. I know that many are in the same position as the ceaseless reader. It’s deliberate…keeping our nose to the grindstone, working for our families to the extent we now don’t have the time to even ponder the ridiculousness of the current world situation, much less fight against it.

    • I don’t really believe in demonstrations — that’s why my life has only had two and both were earth day both in Colorado Springs. I believe more in each person doing the best they can and not adding to the disaster any more than they can help it. I believe if each of us did this — according to our lights — the problem would diminish. I believe it’s the sense of defeat that defeats us. ❤

      • I agree with the self defeat 5hing, I also agree in doing what we can as individuals. If we all did just a little, it would make a difference.

        • I think so. I’ve reached a point where negativity and doomsayers and “The younger generation sucks.” Things are bad in many ways, but wallowing in that doesn’t help anyone. It paralyzes us. How can you fight FOR something when you’re flattened by all that exists that you can never change? You can’t. 🙂

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