“April is the cruelest month,” or so wrote T.S. Eliot, “mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.”

Indeed, in the Northern Hemisphere, April can be a bit of a heartbreaker. She might bring spring one day, setting expectations on mild sun and blooming flowers, and then bring winter the next, blowing a blizzard that shakes the darling buds, and leaves behind “new, dead leaves [that] make the trees look like children with gray hair.”

During this season of expectations raised, then dashed, I like to seed my hopes in summer travel. No matter what the weather is outside my window, my computer screen can transport me to one of the United States’s stunning landscapes, and I can spend hours researching and planning in anticipation of beauty, adventure, and time away from time.

Much of the U.S.’s stunning beauty is protected by the National Parks System, which writer and environmentalist Wallace Stegner famously called “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, [National Parks] reflect us at our best rather than our worst."

We tend to agree, and since at this time especially we need reminders of our best, we recommend honoring the land with these practices.

Practice Visio Divina with stunning scenes from U.S. National Parks.

Watch Ken Burns’ documentary, The American Buffalo. The greed in this history is astounding, but The Better Angels Society, which supported the film, offers this bit of hope as well: “[I]f the story of the buffalo represents one of the most dramatic demonstrations of our ability to destroy the natural world, it also provides compelling proof that we are capable of pulling a species back from the precipice of extinction.” You can stream the film through your local PBS station.

Read John Muir’s passionate plea to Congress not to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley near what is now Yosemite National Park. The dam was built, and the valley remains flooded, but Muir’s fight reminds us of the constant need to defend the “holy temples” of nature.

Image Source:
Zion Angels Landing View by Diliff, CC BY 4.0
Sunset in Hetch Hetchy by Justin Gaerlan, CC BY 2.0