Tag: Alabama Coast

The Not-Summer Season

The Not-Summer Season

Perhaps the most noticeable change of seasons in coastal Alabama is when we have less humidity in our air. Humidity seems to fuel everything here. Sodden, seemingly melting air is never missed by those of us who call the Gulf Coast home. By the end of the summer–October–we reach a dazed lack of tolerance for clothes sticking to our sweaty skin.

So it is with an audible sigh of relief that I report our first real cold front of the autumn season moved through yesterday. It was like a freight train from hell with tornados, lightning, winds and rain that fell in sheets rather than drops. The one or two earlier little fronts didn’t compare to this doozie.

I got in a good bicycle ride early in the morning but the early-arriving, pre-front clouds pelted me with the biggest raindrops I’ve ever seen. It felt like stinging nettles as I pushed and pedaled against a strong headwind to escape the rain.

It’s nice when the transition from one season to the next isn’t so violent. But sometimes change can be quite dramatic….and even painful. However, the outcome is definitely worth it.

I look forward to a chilly ride in the morning. Just hoping my cycling shoes are dried out and my helmet isn’t soggy. And might I add, Welcome Autumn!

Waves, Wind and Light

Waves, Wind and Light

Generally when we have a hurricane nearby it’s wet, humid, hot with southern winds…give or take a few directional degrees. But Irma was kept to our east by a strong cell of high pressure with cool, dry air. When she roared up Florida’s west coast her counterclockwise winds brought a strong northern flow our way.

I rode my bike before sunrise Sunday morning and the waves and winds weren’t kicking but I knew, after looking at the forecast, that by Sunday afternoon we’d have a strong north wind and larger waves.

All day I dreamed of larger waves rolling in from the south and the strong north wind pushing their crests back. I envisioned spray flying back over the spine of the waves. And sunlight illuminating the spray…don’t let me forget that visual that knocked around in my mind all day.

Late afternoon found me back at the beach with my camera. A strong wind was blowing and sand was intensely moving creating a hefty sand-blast of my bare feet and ankles….and any exposed skin. Changing lenses was dicey. One grain of sand and ugh….

The light was beautiful for cloud photos but I arrived a bit too early for the effects of spray and light I hoped to capture. I played around one area of Gulf State Park beach and then, closer to sunset, went to the state park pier.

Clouds made the light rather iffy and certainly did nothing for the white foam and cresting waves. I took a few images of a great blue heron and played with wave shots at the pier. With the rather boring light I nearly gave up on my vision.

And just as I was turning to trudge back through the soft, white sand to my car, the sun broke through a low bank of clouds and a wonderland appeared before my eyes. This is what I’ve been waiting for, I thought. WOW!

I spent a while whispering words of gratitude for the perfection of the scene. No rain….dry, cool air…interesting clouds and oh yes, those majestic waves with their tops swirled back over their spines.

Eventually I lowered my camera and stood witness to the beauty, the convergence of waves, wind and light. It’s always nice to dive deeply into my happy place.

Watershed Beauty

Watershed Beauty

Dog River, Mobile, Alabama

Earlier this week I was part of a large group of individuals doing health assessments on the local manatee population. While the health of the animals is important and the work by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab biologists and volunteers as well as Sea World Rescue was outstanding, as I rode in one of the boats I couldn’t help but feel amazement at the beauty of our area.

Dog River–Cypress Trees

Dog River conjures images of mud from Will Kimbrough‘s awesome song, Mud Bottom. As I took time at our lunch break to cool off, I thought of the squishy mud Will sings about which always reminds me of Week’s Bay….where I grew up. And the mud is indeed squishy. But I digress….

Our watersheds of coastal Alabama are simply magnificent. The Mobile Delta is one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet. Yes, it’s muddy. Yes, the water is dark….but it’s dark like a good roux in gumbo is dark. The darker the roux, the richer and tastier the gumbo.

One of the many launch points on the Mobile Delta

If you are a resident of coastal Alabama I invite you to visit the Delta. Take an eco-cruise with Jimbo Meador or take your kayak out….but hire a guide if you go far. The Delta is a maze of marsh grass and channels leading into a labyrinth of alligators, lotus blossoms and nurseries for baby sea life.

The Mobile Delta

Visit the rivers…Dog, Tensaw, Blakley, Fish, Magnolia….but leave the powerboat at home.  Take a canoe or kayak or paddleboard to really experience the essence of these special places. The Gulf of Mexico is where they all end up but their routes are fabulous water trails into the vast diversity of our area.

Volunteer to help…through wildlife agencies, water keepers….be a part of the solution!

Part of our awesome group of manatee-lovers and scientists.

 

Sunrise Together

Sunrise Together

For several mornings while cycling, I’ve stopped at sunrise and turned on the ‘live’ video function on Facebook and have connected with friends while I’m standing at the beach or at a marsh. When people join the conversation I can see them and then can read comments….some comments anyway. Then, as I finish my ride, I think of my friends and send them love and good thoughts.

Perhaps the most valuable takeaway is the feeling of connection, of unity. We are watching the sun rise together.

In these times of divisiveness and fear, it is so important to cultivate feelings of Oneness and connection. It doesn’t have to be through social media…that’s just a way that’s building community for me.

It’s important to be aware of what’s happening in our world. It’s vital that we build connections with others that hold a vision of peace and compassion and equality. Let’s not meet violence with violence but rather with a unified vision and practice of peace, compassion and joy….all over the planet.

*I’m still learning how to read comments and reply while using the video so if you type a greeting and I don’t see it I’m not ignoring you. I love you!

Frogs & Clouds–An Illuminating Experience

Frogs & Clouds–An Illuminating Experience

In preparation for a yoga and cycling retreat in Ireland, I purchased a light system for my bicycle. So when I woke up at 4.30am the trails called. Not sunrise yet? No problem!

The waning moon offered light as did the stars but in order to avoid Mr. No-Shoulders and little amphibians I used my new headlight. It was an illuminating experience.

First, being on the trail an hour before sunrise gave me a glimpse into creatures that I rarely see. And mostly, it was frogs with an occasional toady. Some appeared to have springs in their legs as they leaped in a single bound across two bicycle lanes. Others stared me down and refused to move, their bright, beady eyes sparkling with greed at insects swarming over their moist, green heads.

When I got to the beach it was clouds that illuminated my mind and heart. Every shape and color seemed to shine in the pre-dawn light. Stars, planets and that waning moon all joined with the clouds and Gulf of Mexico to create a remarkable experience. I found it difficult to get back on my bicycle and turn my back to the spectacle.

But eventually I did and the entire ride was filled with clouds and colors and yes…more frogs–who seem to love the new boardwalks across the marsh. It was one of those epic rides that I wouldn’t have missed for anything.

Illumination….shining light where there was none. Funny how something I bought for road cycling safety in another country brought me into another realm of beauty this morning. All I had to do was say, Yes!