by Jan Baughman
(Swans - May 7, 2012) I awoke to a beautiful Kansas spring day; the air quality was better than most, as if the earth were reminding me of what once was, and what could be. Nothing was in the air but excitement, because we were treating ourselves to an outing at the special Earth Day NASCAR race. The nice weather was indeed fortunate, considering that on the prior weekend unseasonable tornadoes not only tore through the state, but ravaged the entire southeast along with baseball-size hail, which seems to be turning into the new national pastime. I quickly got dressed, jumped into the Prius, and headed to Costco to buy some groceries for our tailgate lunch -- the cost of this celebration was already a stretch to our budget. Organic fruit and veggies and a free-range roast chicken cost less than a couple of twelve-dollar hotdogs at the track, and is much healthier! (Here's a little tip, by the way. Rubbing alcohol works wonders to get the glue from those "organic" stickers off of apples. You need something stronger for organic tomatoes, whose skin is thinner than those genetically modified to withstand shipping across the country. Use some lighter fluid, or if you don't have any, a spritzing of WD-40 will remove the sticker without damaging the skin. You may want to follow up with a special produce wash to remove any trace of chemicals.)
Since the Prius has no tailgate, and after all, it's a NASCAR race, we loaded up the new Chevrolet Avalanche pickup truck (the 0% 60-month financing made it impossible to resist!) and headed off. The traffic was unbelievable -- tens of thousands of people turned out for this special day, giving me hope that if we all just put our minds to it, we can do good things for this planet. After lunch in the packed parking lot, we made our way to the grandstand just in time for the National Anthem and a spectacular flyover of four F-18 fighter jets. I know -- there's a lot of criticism about the taxpayer cost of those ubiquitous jets at sporting events, but when you think about it, they arouse patriotism and inspire our youth to join the military; the military is researching green energy because of all the enemy attacks on fuel transports in Afghanistan; therefore, NASCAR is green. You can't argue with the logic! With NASCAR's support of the military, whose research has led to myriad technological advances, perhaps they will have more success at decreasing our dependence on foreign oil and curbing climate change than all those "fringe" groups merely trying to change our way of life.
Anyway, after all the pageantry, the racecars lined up on the starting grid; the bevy of beautiful girls that line the cars were clad in green jumpsuits for the occasion; the back-stretch of the track was painted in green; and the pace car, a Toyota Camry Hybrid with a "NASCAR Green" logo on its trunk hood, led the way in a fabulous display of green solidarity. The racecars now use 15% ethanol fuel for a greener footprint, and they get about two to five miles per gallon at race speed. I read that about 6,000 gallons of fuel are consumed during a typical racing weekend, so just imagine the boon to the corn growers, especially in our little corner of Kansas! After much anticipation, the race got underway and was spectacular, with its myriad crashes (how do they recycle all the wreckage?!?) and as always, the best man won. It was a good day for all, and I think the earth must have been proud of all the tributes it received.
On the drive home we had a fabulous idea: Next year we'll celebrate on a global scale by spending Earth Day in Rio de Janeiro. After a few days relaxing on the pristine beaches, we'll take a little side trip to pay homage to the rain forest, and we'll buy carbon offsets to make up for the 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide our flights will produce.
Once home, exhilarated and exhausted, I quickly fell asleep. I normally dream in black and white, but that night I dreamt in green, imaging a better planet and all the possibilities we can create, if we all just do our share. I know I'll keep doing mine.
Jan Baughman asks you all: Please,Swans financially.
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