Tag: Alabama Coast

Earth Day Notes from the Oil Spill

Earth Day Notes from the Oil Spill

I started a new painting today and when I opened my work table drawer found a notebook filled with writing from when I documented the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010. I thought about typing them all out but felt images of the scribbles might be more powerful for those interested. It brought many tears as I read it. Some pages are note included as there are personal names and phone numbers of people I met. This is a sampling of the notes that helped me write many blog posts. Hard to believe it has been 9 years….and what has changed?

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You can find videos of my daily documentation of the oil spill on my YouTube channel. There are also MANY beautiful nature videos. Just visit YouTube and search Simone Lipscomb.

The Next Chapter

The Next Chapter

Life seems to divide itself into geographic chapters for me. Choosing to live in an area gives me amazing experiences of connection to land and water, wildlife and people. Nearly a year ago I made the decision to end the chapter at the Gulf Coast of Alabama and begin another chapter, in another place.

Front View

While here I was fortunate enough to purchase a home that was built in a live oak forest. It has been a most amazing place to live, move and have my being. Barred owls are frequent visitors as are hawks. Just yesterday, after working on a short video, two hawks landed outside my office window in the grandmother oak tree and were loudly conversing in hawk-speak. It was amazing! Occasionally I see a fox and last summer, just after putting my home for sale, a mother fox and baby were seen just in front of my home. She spotted me and picked up her baby and carried it to their new den. A sign that time was drawing near for me to live in a new den.

The first month I moved into my home I found out about the sea turtle volunteer program so spent every summer involved in the magical life cycle of sea turtles. Also, early in this chapter, I became involved with volunteer work with the Manatee Sighting Network and that led to an amazing community rescue with Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Sea World a few years ago.

It’s not an easy decision to begin a new chapter. I get set in patterns and ways, comfortable in the predictable and immersed in the beauty of strong and beautiful trees and cow neighbors….I seem to be drawn to places with nearby cows. My dog Buddy even has one that licks his nose…that’s how friendly the angus are to us.

Front View

It took me a while to make the decision to move. I’ve never had a home so perfectly fit me and come to life so much with decorating and highlighting the magnificent architectural design. It’s an incredible southern cottage filled with charm. And I do have some family here. But my daughter lives two days drive from here and honestly, I’d like to be closer to her and my son-in-law. But not Michigan-close–where they live–but within a day’s drive.

So I considered various places, even thought about the Florida Springs area, but ultimately felt the call of Mother Earth and Her mountains. So once my home sells, I will be headed northeast. I guess that’s why I kept my snowshoes, snow pants and other winter gear. The Appalachian Mountains are calling me home. Admittedly, when I lived there before, it was the happiest I had ever been. The Asheville area is such an open-minded place that is inclusive of all….and that’s amazing to experience. And then….there are the mountains and waterfalls.

Fenced Courtyard at Rear

I am ready but the timing is up to the Universe. My home is for sale and awaits the perfect new owners…a person or people who will love the land here, the trees, the river access. My wish is that whoever lives here will experience the same unbounded love for the home and place I have felt…and known. It’s not easy closing this chapter but I am excited to start a new one and excited for whoever chooses to live here.

The Art of Nature

The Art of Nature

I stood in awe as waves crashed in shallow waters. Their foamy beauty rose and crested and curled as the momentum carried them into powerful, moving forms of art.

The wind was strong, in fact sometimes so strong I had to brace myself. I had to use care to protect my camera from blowing sea spray and rain but I couldn’t leave, such was the magnetism of the constantly-changing art formations.

Standing on the pier gave the perfect view of waves close-up and in the distance. Sometimes I would focus on a single wave and track its birth, growth and death. It was like I was shown some mystery of nature as the process continued again and again and the details of it froze in my photograph frames.

Long sets of waves captured my attention as well and the relationship of swells was revealed as I watched, mesmerized by the intense display. The energy was so strong I finally had to leave because I was exhausted from standing in strong winds that seemed to strip me of gravity.

I wasn’t alone on the pier as other people stood along the rails transfixed by the large waves. I think we all need to experience something larger than ourselves. In a strange way it made me feel more at ease, more at home in my own skin to witness something so much bigger and stronger than me.

I wonder if we don’t need more experiences with nature where we understand that in the end, nature will always have the last ‘word.’ We need the perspective that we aren’t in control, that we have to live with conditions around us. It’s very humbling and I suspect most humans in our culture could use a little less ego and a lot more humility.

Yesterday and this morning along the Alabama Gulf Coast it was beautiful to witness the power of nature’s art. It is a different story for all those in the main path of the storm. My heart goes out to all life forms who are still experiencing suffering and loss as I write this.

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It’s unusual to see a major hurricane make landfall during the day. Perhaps we needed to witness the fury and power and realize that as we contribute to warming the atmosphere through fossil fuels, we are part of the problem that feeds huge storms such as this.

 

Push the Sun

Push the Sun

Awaiting sunrise, my impatience began to urge, shove, plead with, cajole the orange orb to kiss the horizon so I could get back to my cycling. Seriously….when has it ever taken so long for the sun to peek above the sea.

I checked Siri….she said, in her Irish accent, Sunrise is at 6.35 am this morning. Five more minutes. I think I heard her add,  What’s the hurry, Simone?

The eastern sky had been growing lighter for half an hour as I pedaled to the beach. I stood in sock-feet on the wet sand after removing my cleats….who can walk in cleats on regular ground much less soft, squishy sand? My socks were getting soaked, it was getting hotter and still the sun hid below the horizon.

The sun took its time and left me with no choice but to relax and enjoy the nearly deserted shore. Usually I enjoy the pause…the wait…but not today. Not this week or this month. I am so ready….

My intuition and sense of change is usually a few months ahead of the actual happening so I always go through this insanely frustrating experience before a big change. Once I know change is coming, I’m ready to leap and continue on with life. But it rarely happens like that for me.

Rise, dammit! Why won’t you show yourself so I can continue on? The perfect mirror to my process wasn’t lost on me. Whatever, I mumbled as I stood in increasingly wet socks. Just take your own sweet time sunshine. I’ve got all freaking day.

I can laugh at my silliness from the dry carpet and comfortable desk as I write this and I might have laughed at myself on the beach. In my willingness to listen and be open to the depth of the lesson I asked Mother Earth….What do you want me to know?

Her reply came through waves softly kissing the sand and the glow of orange light on tidal pools. You don’t have to be in control of everything. You can let go. I realize I am afraid everything will fall apart if I let go…..so I must let go.

We develop ways to cope with life that become more of a hinderance than a help as we progress through life. David Wilcox wrote a song that popped into my awareness as I typed….The song is Slipping Through My Fist. It sat in my heart and mind and answered the message from Mother Earth. Here are the lyrics.

“I have drifted down a ways along the shoreline
I just watched these ropes give way where they were tied
I could have reached out quick
When the ropes first slipped, if I had tried
But I was wondering where the wind was trying to take me
Overnight, if I never did resist
What strange breezes make a sailor want to let it come to this
With lines untied, slipping through my fist
It is downhill all the way to the ocean
So of course the river always wants to flow
The river’s been here longer
It’s older and stronger and knows where to go
I guess I’m wondering where the river’s trying to take me
Overnight, if I never did resist
What strange breezes make a sailor want to, let it come to this
With lines untied, slipping through my fist
This is where I played as a baby
This is where I ran as a child
This is where my dad
Took the last breath he had and smiled
I guess I’m wondering where this place is trying to take me
Overnight, if I never did resist
What strange breezes make a sailor want to, let it come to this
With lines untied, slipping through my fist
With lines untied, slipping through my fist.”
Sunset

Sunset

A few decades ago I stood on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and listened to Her through the waves and wind. “I feel like I should be here helping you,” I said aloud. You will know when to return. With that answer, I returned to the Piedmont of North Carolina.

April 20, 2010 I was leading a night dive in Curacao, 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela, and tasted an oily flavor in the air I was breathing. I stopped and surfaced and asked others if they had similar experiences with their tanks….none were noted. I continued leading the dive being very cautious and diving relatively shallow just to be safe.

Upon returning to the Atlanta airport two days later, I learned of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The night of the dive was the night the rig exploded and sank…and the nightmare of the largest oil spill in US history began. Sitting in the airport I remembered the sea’s answer…You will know when to return.

And so, for the next year I spent a week of nearly every month back at the Alabama coast documenting and writing about the disaster. I traveled back and forth from Asheville, where I lived at the time. And finally, the work led me to live along the coast.

Within a couple weeks of moving here I found sea turtle volunteer opportunities and a bit later, manatee volunteer training and volunteering. Both became very important in my life. But after six years here, and two children’s books and two photography-inspirational books, it felt like my work here was coming to a pause….a long pause….a very long pause and I knew it was time to open to the next chapter.

The sunset….oh, yes. The sunset.

I walked along the beach a couple nights ago and found myself at the water’s edge asking Her permission to wrap up the work here and move back to the mountains. Well done, daughter. Return to the mountains to be nurtured in the lush green and fresh running waters, I felt more than heard.

Nearing the end of the walk I was on the boardwalk leaving the beach when the western horizon drew my attention. Perhaps a pause before leaving wouldn’t hurt.

Little-by-little the most amazing sunset I have ever seen began to illuminate the sky. My heart opened with deep gratitude. I have witnessed such sadness here….oil covering animals and beaches–the smell burning my eyes and throat years ago and recently a critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle and a huge loggerhead sea turtle washed ashore dead on my last two sea turtle patrols. But the sky reminded me of the gift of beauty that has also been experienced during my six years here.

It seemed to be a thank-you…a gift that will remain burned into my memory.

As I write this my dog is running in his sleep as he lays beside me on the bed. He’s off adventuring in his dreams. I welcome the next adventure as I don my hiking boots and walk into the welcoming arms of the oldest mountains on the planet…camera in hand, note pad ready and heart open.