Tag: Alabama Coast

Let Your Little Light Shine

Let Your Little Light Shine

Many of our wonderful, big-hearted town folk. Photo by….Jody’s camera…who took it?

Joni Mitchell sings in her song Shine, “Oh, let your little light shine….Shine on rising oceans and evaporating seas, Shine on our Frankenstein technologies…Shine on science with its tunnel vision, Shine on fertile farmland Buried under subdivisions…Let your little light shine…Let your little light shine…Shine on the dazzling darkness That restores us in deep sleep, Shine on what we throw away And what we keep…Shine on good earth, good air, good water And a safe place For kids to play, Shine on bombs exploding  Half a mile away…Shine on good humor…Shine on good will…Those seekers of mental health Craving simplicity They traveled inward Past themselves…May all their little lights shine.”

A veterinarian from Audubon Zoo checks our manatee friend with rescuers. Photo by Simone

This song played today as I cleaned gear from yesterday’s community effort of support to our manatee friends that have lost their way this winter and journeyed to the Magnolia River springs instead of to central Florida springs. That navigational mistake is costly as it most certainly leads to death from cold-stress unless they make it to the warmer springs of Florida on their own or by assistance through rescue.

Photo by Ted (I’m sorry…I lost track of who took this photo) please message me and I will add your correct name.

The details of the recovery of the smaller, weaker manatee or the capture and escape of the larger, healthier manatee are not as important tonight, as the love that was generated from the coming together of the community of volunteers from Magnolia Springs, Alabama…my home town. Those upset or angry about the rescue didn’t dampen the spirit of unity that grew as the day progressed. What a beautiful sight to see such caring, loving people with open hearts show up to lend support through dragging nets, parking cars, carrying gear, smiling from shore, taking photographs, asking questions to learn more about manatees.

Photo by Jody Moore.

I always question interfering with wild animals as the rescues can easily turn into recoveries, but this endangered species cannot survive here during the winter months due to cold water and the deadly consequences that it presents to manatees. So if we do nothing, they die. If we try to save them they may die. It’s a constant inner struggle for me yet with the proper rescue team and equipment, rescues can happen and animals can be saved. And when it comes to an endangered species, every animal counts.

IMG_7747Thank you dear neighbors for letting your light shine. Thanks for opening your hearts.  I know there is sadness about the small manatee that died. It was very sick. But I think of what a strong spirit he or she must have had to bring all of us together in such a beautiful and strong way. While we mourn the loss of this precious one, we can celebrate the beautiful gift it gave to each of us who had our heart open enough to receive it.

Our friend passed away shortly after being brought to shore. Surrounded by love generated by his strong spirit.
Our friend passed away shortly after being brought to shore….surrounded by love from our community, generated by his strong spirit. Photo by Simone

Oh, let your little light shine….Shine on manatees struggling in the cold A warm spring to enfold, Shine on rescue workers coming to their aid In Magnolia waters shine, never fade…Let you little light shine. Oh, let your little light shine.




All Creatures Great and Small

All Creatures Great and Small

About to head out on my SUP board to look for our manatee friend

Gusts were bringing in the cold front and chilly temperatures  as I stood barefoot on my SUP board. What am I doing out here? They can’t find a facility to take the animal so why paddle out? Why look? Immediately my heart poured forth a chorus of reasons: We need to document locations; I want this creature to know humans care; I don’t want it to suffer alone; it doesn’t matter that the rehab facility doesn’t want to receive a sick animal today….

A very large manatee at Homosassa Springs State Park.
A very large manatee at Homosassa Springs State Park.

On and on I slowly paddled, scanning the river from one side to the other….looking for a small nose at the surface, the shadow of a manatee, the tail-print of a swimming manatee…so in hope of finding this small one alive still, surviving in a 58 degree river, a river far too cold to dwell if you are a manatee that should be in the Florida springs.

As I moved silently through the water I contemplated the inner push to be here with heavy clouds hanging close and a 52 degree air temperature with 22 mph gusts of wind. Why does my heart call me so?

I took this image yesterday afternoon after jumping into a river neighbor's canoe and drifting near the manatee
I took this image yesterday afternoon after jumping into a river neighbor’s canoe and drifting near the manatee
Another image of our lost manatee friend...
Another image of our lost manatee friend…

They’re precious…they’re endangered….they are innocents….they are gentle….they are my brothers and sisters.

Self-portrait of my leg and fin as a young manatee plays with my drysuit in a Florida spring
Self-portrait of my leg and fin as a young manatee plays with my drysuit in a Florida spring

Human-generated interference has caused this gentle species to become endangered. Maybe 5000 are left on the planet….over 800 lost last year alone. One fifth of the population wiped out by red-tide, an overgrowth of algae caused by human-generated pollution. Boat strikes…local fishermen in Crystal River calling them speed bumps, a cruel name assigned to them because the boaters don’t want to use idle speed in King’s Bay, a haven for wintering manatees….and the tears flowed.

I cannot change the fact that humans have created a real mess on the planet, especially in regards to water pollution, over-fishing, creating environments no longer capable of supporting healthy marine life. The past is done and there’s not magic wand to undo it.

Portrait of a friend and a human friend.
Portrait of a friend and a human friend.

But we can care now.

I stopped at a dock and chatted with a river elder who had seen the small manatee yesterday. I gave him the hotline number and asked him to call if he or his wife spotted our friend. Maybe a Christmas miracle will happen and the stars will align and rescue can be made before pneumonia kills this friend…this little brother or sister.

Mother and large calf....
Mother and large calf….

A few hours later…….

The faces of love....
The faces of love….

I sit in my car in front of the Piggly Wiggly, tears streaming down my face, watching cars head south toward the beach. Gray clouds hang close, the wind picks up flags of yellow, red, blue and green and makes them tug against tethers. The flags remind me of the tugging of my heart to stay open…to care. I reflect back to the cashier who yelled, ‘Merry Christmas!’…the alcohol-hazed man wandering in the aisles…the helpful clerk who directed me to the pesto…the child cashing in pennies….the grandfather who bragged on his cute granddaughter…the classmates I haven’t seen in over 30 years…the smartly dressed…the ragged….the lost and sick manatee….the pelican fishing upriver…the red fish…the great blue heron…we all come from cosmic Source…we are Love…we are Light. We are One.

SimoneLipscombA friend once told me that there is a price that comes with having an open heart:  We feel.

A manatee kissing a human...
A manatee kissing a human…

To all my brothers and sisters….creatures great and small….may this time of light and love open our hearts to each other so that we may know connection….to you, to Source, to our own hearts.

A manatee holding a human's hand....
A manatee holding a human’s hand….
Love Never Ends

Love Never Ends

SimoneLipscomb (1)The sun slowly set across the bay. From my perch on the end of the hurricane-damaged pier I sat alone—utterly alone— yet surrounded by endless memories. As I closed my eyes and listened, I could almost hear the laughter of my brother and cousins when we were children. I could hear our mom’s calling out, “Don’t run! Don’t run on the pier!”

A mullet splashed and brought me back to the present. My thoughts turned to my grandfather. If only he could be in the swing sitting with me on the pier telling stories of hauling watermelons to New Orleans. Or maybe he would tell the story of getting married to my grandmother, of having seven dollars and the Pensacola judge asking ten dollars to perform their marriage. It left them no money for lunch. He perhaps would remind me they did not tell anyone they were married for two weeks and they only knew they loved each other. That was all that mattered.

Granddad with the great-grand kids
Granddad with the great-grand kids

As I sat on the pier and watched the sunset, I thought back to days when our entire family was together—Dad and Mom, Mammaw and Granddad, Babe and Preston, Patti, Paula, Mike, Johnny, my brother and me, Aunt Bert, Aunt Carrie, Aunt Teet–all of us together enjoying fish fries, water skiing, sailing, crabbing, fishing, swimming, and nights spent on the pier staring up into star-filled heavens. Summer days were filled with the essence of family, fun, seafood, salt water, sunshine, and the ingredient that made it all magic—love.

Granddad and my daughter Emily...1986
Granddad and my daughter Emily…1986

It was not that it had all been easy. There had been difficulties, heartaches, mistakes, deaths and sadness, but that is only part of being human. It is part of life. The thread that had kept us all together was love—love anchored by Granddad and Mammaw for sixty-three years and then by Granddad for the past several years. In my reverie on the pier, I realized that with his passing our anchor would be gone. Each family, now including great grand children, some of whom were adults, would drift farther away from the nucleus that Granddad had anchored. Our lives would change. The thread would unravel a little more.

I remembered how things changed when Mammaw passed on years earlier. We began using disposable plates at Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of her favorite china. Granddad missed her greatly but went on the best he could, honoring and loving her with a deep, true love. Granddad made an effort to step in and do things with my brother and me when our dad was unable. We rode horses together, sometimes with my brother Lance following along on his bicycle. I never realized until recently how he helped father us when our own father was sick.

Granddad and me in a Foley Christmas parade...circa 1975 or so
Granddad and me in a Foley Christmas parade…circa 1975 or so

Why is it that only when we face losing someone we love do we realize just how deep love’s grooves are worn into our hearts?

An empty bottle floated past the pier. It bobbed slowly past as the current carried it out to sea. Our lives are so much like that bottle—floating along on the currents of time, steered by an unseen force from the day we are born until we die. Is it chance that steers the current of our lives together or is it some greater force that brings us into each other’s presence? Maybe it is a little of both, but regardless, it is love that keeps us close, that brings us to a place of understanding and tolerance, of patience and peace.

SimoneLipscomb (7)I turned and looked back over my shoulder, up the pier to the moss-draped live oak trees and the large white house that my grandparents called home for so many years. I swear I could see Granddad walking down to the pier in his khaki work pants and shirt wearing his boots and straw hat to sit with me and tell me once more about…..memories flooded my mind and my heart listened wide open, as my grandfather shared his life story just one more time.


I wrote this after visiting my grandfather on the way back to North Carolina…just after his surgery and before Hurricane Katrina. A few days later I shared it at his funeral and later still, it ended up in a chapter of my first book, Sharks On My Fin Tips(Published by Grateful Steps Publishing House, 2008).

Coming Home

Coming Home

SimoneLipscomb (21)“Like many coastal species that begin life in the brown waters of Weeks Bay, I began my life on the shores of this tiny estuary. I grew up amid herons, egrets, baby crabs, shrimp and mullet with the dark-brown mud squishing between my young toes. The smell of the salt marsh filled my being and was imprinted on my soul only hours after I breathed my first breath.

I played under live oak trees heavily draped with Spanish moss and was nurtured by the bay as surely as it nurtures young marine life destined to swim out into the Gulf of Mexico when they are of sufficient size. And like the creatures birthed in the bay, I too moved away from its tranquil shores yet I will always feel the pulsation of saltwater in my blood like a magnet, drawing me home.”*

SimoneLipscombAfter we come into our body, our remaining time seems to be spent trying to find our way back..back to the place from where we came: salt marsh, mountain, prairie, beach, farm, city. Or something more? What is the pull we feel as we move through life? Is it calling us to a physical home? Is it calling us back to family? Or is it the metaphysical call that whispers to our heart and guides us to a deeper, more profound home–that inner place of stillness, of quiet.

SimoneLipscomb (26)The first time I moved away from home was when I went to Auburn University. It was a fantastic small town atmosphere rooted in a large university’s deep resources and programs. My mind expanded with new people, ideas, and experiences.

SimoneLipscomb (9)Through the years I moved back to the Alabama coast and away to places like Nashville, Atlanta, Greensboro, and Asheville. My time in Asheville was probably my most happy. I was living on a mountain in a beautiful chalet-type home and was fulfilling a dream I had since I was a child.

SimoneLipscomb (11)For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to live on a mountain. In truth, it was a passion that filled me throughout my life. While my time there was only six years in length, during that time I made connections that launched my creativity and career as a writer and photographer. The particular mountain on which I lived connected me with a publisher, a friend who shared my passion for photography and graphic design, other friends who surrounded me with support and love, a co-author and mentor for other poetry/photography projects, music friends…soul friends.

SimoneLipscomb (15)And the mountain gave me more. It showed me how to expand and rise to heights within myself I had never been able to reach. When I first moved into my home there I felt myself really having to work to expand to be able to hold the energetic space of the home…and the surrounding mountains and sky. It was blissful there (except for the winters…and wind and snow…and ice). Snow and a tropical gal are not a good combination.

SimoneLipscomb (24)Years ago, when I was in my early thirties, I remember walking along the beach at the Gulf of Mexico and feeling strongly that I was supposed to be there even though I lived far away at the time. In my silent gaze over the water I opened my heart and expressed my willingness to serve. Softly, like whispers on the wind, I heard, You will know when its time to return. You will feel the call.

SimoneLipscomb (23)On April 20, 2010 I was in the Atlanta airport flying back from a dive trip to Curacao where I had been ‘unplugged’ for a week. I looked up at the television screen in the gate waiting area and saw the footage of the burning well, the Deepwater Horizon. You will know when its time to return. You will feel the call. The message returned in perfect clarity.

I returned to the Alabama coast one week each month for the first year after the oil spill and documented it through writing, photography and video. I wrote a children’s book about it and spoke to community groups. At some point, during that year of grief and sadness and heartbreak, I realized how much I missed the Alabama Gulf Coast.

SimoneLipscomb (18)My conditions for moving were these: Sell my mountain home at the listed price and do it within the first six months of listing it. And to move to Magnolia Springs, a beautiful community where I lived for several of my childhood years. My house closed two days before the six month contract expired at the full, listed price. I moved to Magnolia Springs and bought a sweet home nestled under live oak trees.

SimoneLipscomb (12)These two and a half years back at the coast have been a time of deep inner healing. For the first time in my adult life I was alone. Since I was twenty I had been in a relationship of some sort and so my coming home was more than a physical experience of relocating to the place of my birth, it was an invitation to come home to myself, to become acquainted with myself as an individual and not as someone’s wife or significant other.

SimoneLipscomb (14)Distractions are many in our lives…going to school or college, establishing a career, getting married, having a child or children, building a life…struggling in our own ways. Opportunities are given to return back to that place of inner quiet and knowing yet often the distractions keep the journey ‘home’ as a distant, longed-for event on a hazy horizon. But the invitation never goes away, it’s always open.

Today as I was cleaning my floors I went into a sort of meditative state as I mopped and realized I feel happy and at home. Not just in my southern cottage house, but within myself. Really happy, really content…at peace with who I am and my place in the world.

SimoneLipscomb (17)While making the physical move back to the place of my birth brought me home, I realized the true meaning of coming home was simply finding my true self amid shattered dreams, fears, successes, losses, accomplishments…finding wholeness, completeness in the dazzling array of distractions called life.

Do I want a loving partner? Yes. And I am happy without one. Do I want my work to find a bigger audience in the world? Sure. And I am content if only one person sees it…or if I gain something just from the creative process of producing it.

SimoneLipscomb (19)People…places…things do not bring happiness and contentment. These come when we find ourselves at peace with who we are and when we realize that life is a journey where we are continually coming home, discovering new inner spaces and expanding the possibilities of who we are and who we can become.

* Excerpt from Sharks On My Fin Tips: A Wild Woman’s Adventures With Nature by Simone Lipscomb published 2008 by Grateful Steps Publishing House, Asheville, NC. Available from Amazon or from the author (see the BOOKS page of this website).

Collective Vision

Collective Vision

SimoneLipscomb (47)Saltwater gently lapped against white sand. I stood in inner silence, an observer of life.

As I slipped into a saltwater reverie, I saw a ship made of living sea creatures lift from the water and float upon the surface. Brilliant blue and green hues shimmered on the resplendent glory of bountiful sea life. A glow from beneath the surface was the aura of a healthy ocean.

Blue-gray clouds streaked with white unfolded across the horizon and the soft shushing of waves greeting the shore echoed a musical cadence…peaccccceahhhh…..peacccceee….ahhhh.

As the vision evaporated in the sparkling sunlight upon the Gulf’s surface, I walked back toward land. I saw a sea gull sleeping with her head tucked under a wing, gently rocking in time with the mantra…peacccce….peacccce. I felt her peace…I stopped and rocked with her, sisters.

SimoneLipscomb (14)During today’s Frog Pond Sunday Social brother Will Kimbrough shared a new song that took me back to those moments on the beach. Child of Light reminded me that each of us is a child of light and has a role to play in the awakening consciousness. We bring our gifts with us as we come, sprinkled with star dust, into this life.

SimoneLipscomb (46)What light am I willing to bring? What light are you willing to bring? What is our collective vision?