The sky grew dark, and thunder was rumbling, so Lorraine George turned off her television.
The next thing she knew …
“Oh my God, it was a big bang. I tell you, the sound was terrible,” said George, of Wilkes-Barre, who felt her house shake and saw a light outside that was so bright, she thought her front porch had caught fire.
Actually, it didn’t catch fire. Both George, a retired “floor lady from a silk mill” who is in her 90s, and her homestead made it through the storm that swept through Northeastern Pennsylvania on April 10.
There was one casualty, however. The vibration of the shaking house knocked her wall clock to the floor, breaking part of its frame.
George called the newspaper to report her experience, which she found very frightening.
“Oh, I was petrified,” she said.
She’s OK now, back volunteering at her church’s weekly spaghetti dinner and singing in the choir.
Even the clock, despite its broken frame, is once more keeping time, thanks to a new battery.
Now, we have to admit, George herself doesn’t see what happened as any kind of warning from Mother Nature.
Still, Earth Day will be observed on Monday, and some environmentalists might consider a bolt of lightning and a falling clock a message.
Is time running out?
You’re likely to suspect the answer is yes if you watch “Chasing Ice,” a documentary to be screened at 7 p.m. Monday at Wyoming Seminary Lower School in Forty Fort. Promotional photos for the movie show immense glaciers, but watch the film and you’ll see the evidence photographer James Balog and his team have gathered that Arctic ice is retreating at an alarming rate.
The documentary also includes dramatic footage of storms and flooding, which scientists believe will become more severe in the future, along with droughts, heat waves, hurricanes and loss of habitat.
So what can you do to slow the process?
Turn off lights when you leave the room, turn off appliances you’re not using and consolidate errands so you’ll drive less, said Jill Carrick, science chair at the Lower School and adviser to the environmental club. “Put it into the habit part of your brain. It should feel weird not to turn off a light.”
Planting a tree will have positive effects not only for the planet as a whole but for individual health, she said. “Trees are one of the best filters of particles in the air.”
They also can reduce your utility bills. “What a lot of people don’t realize is strategic planting can help reduce energy use in the home.”
As for recycling, Carrick offered this example: The energy it takes to produce one plastic bottle is equivalent to a 60-watt lightbulb burning for six hours. So the fewer plastic bottles that are manufactured, the better.
“We recycle everything we can,” said Shelli Holland, organizer of a Saturday-morning cleanup on the banks of the Lehigh River. Calling the cleanup “the most important part” of the Jim Thorpe Earth Day Celebration, she said, “Oh, man, we find everything.”
Past Lehigh River cleanups have yielded Styrofoam bait containers, car batteries, bicycle parts, buckets lost by rafters, cans, bottles and other items that have washed down toward the river during storms.
“We take out bags and bags of trash,” Holland said.
That part of the festival sounds like work. Other parts sound like fun, with music, crafts, tai chi, rock climbing and a butterfly program. Youngsters are invited throughout the day to make parasols, wings and masks and to model them in a “Planet Earth Children’s Costume Parade” at 4:30 p.m. in downtown Jim Thorpe.
Throughout much of the day in Jim Thorpe, the Recycled Rhythm Drum Circle will welcome people to play their own instruments, or to help make “a thunderously joyful noise” with borrowed items.
The drum circle’s own instruments, which Holland described as “buckets and pots and pans and tambourines made from recycled bottle caps” are evidence that “you don’t have to throw everything away. You can make something beautiful out of what you might have thought was trash.”
Meanwhile, other Saturday cleanups are scheduled for The Lands at Hillside Farms in Shavertown, Snake Road near McDade Park in Scranton and at the Forty Fort Cemetery in Forty Fort.
And, at the Osterhout Free Library in Wilkes-Barre, children can work on an Earth Day Project on Saturday afternoon. “We’ll take a recycled container, like a margarine tub, and decorate it, sort of like decoupage, with newspaper comic pages,” children’s librarian Elaine Rash said. “Then we’ll plant some seeds, something that germinates fast so they can see results.”