Tag: Eco-Spirituality

Sea Turtle Wisdom

Sea Turtle Wisdom

Sleepy sea turtle awaiting darkness to begin her crawl to sea.
Sleepy sea turtle awaiting darkness to begin her crawl to sea.

This is my fifth season volunteering in Alabama’s sea turtle program and the magic of sea turtles emerging from over 50 days deep underground has not faded. Their instinctual wisdom continues to amaze me. From the mother returning to her own birth beach over 20 years after her hatching, to the babies knowing to crawl up in darkness to some unknown place…it’s a sacred mystery.

_TSL6139We listen with stethoscopes as they work under the sand. Over twelve inches…up to two feet underground…they work hard to escape. They sleep underground, they rest, they work. A tiny egg sac feeds and hydrates them as they crawl up in darkness. By the time they escape they have used up the egg sac and must reach the sea to secure nourishment.

_TSL6148They reach the surface of the sand. Sometimes they rest there until darkness and then, once it’s night, crawl to the sea….or to light. Our program helps them by shielding artificial light sources such as porch lights and street lights) so they will crawl toward the sea.

_TSL6144Being a volunteer means long evenings on the beach waiting for an event that might not happen for days. So, in their wisdom, sea turtles teach us patience, teach us to wait calmly.

_TSL6159They also remind us of cycles, of returning to that place from which we came…the sand, the sea, waiting, moving forward…infinite patience, infinite wisdom.

All sea turtle photographs taken with permission from USFW under conditions that do not harm sea turtles.

Stars and Sea

Stars and Sea

_TSL6105The Big Dipper hangs at the northern horizon as I push up from the white sand. The stethoscope is still in my ears after it transmitted progress of the baby sea turtles hatching, scratching and making their way up…up…up from the darkness to the starlight.

With no moon to dim them, the stars are spectacular and are like jewels in the velvet sky. They seem to twinkle into infinity as the Milky Way winds its way through Scorpio and other constellations hanging gracefully over the Gulf of Mexico.

_TSL6096It is a perfect night on the beach. Music of the waves gently lapping against the shore is the background as the babies work diligently underground, in that dark Unknown. With instinct beyond human understanding, they tear and rip the rubbery egg shells and begin to crawl up…up…up to an unknown Source of Life.

_TSL6099Even when a nest hatched early and unattended and most babies crawled toward porch lights or were dispatched by crabs and coyotes and we hunted with visitors and ran and followed tracks with great sadness….there is still a sense of quiet peace. Nature isn’t always cuddly.

_TSL6106I now sit and listen with the stethoscope to the newly born working at the neatly tarped and trenched nest, ready for their imminent arrival, protected from lights that would surely draw them astray. Waves roll onto the shore. A shooting star flashes overhead. The warm breeze caresses my face. I am alone but only isolated from other humans. Everything here pushes in and tells me it’s okay.

The blood of dead hatchlings, killed by ghost crabs, is still on my hands…is on the hands of all humans as we alter and change wild habitat to claim it for ourselves.

Secrets of the Dawn

Secrets of the Dawn

The sky and sea as I finished my sea turtle patrol…just a little over an hour before this the sky was filled with outrageous color.

Who could imagine that a little over an hour ago the rather common, blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds had been a blazing inferno of color? Or that the gentle, rolling waves had revealed bottlenose dolphins within a few feet of the shore. The sea and sky gave no hint of their dawn magic but I carried it deeply within, in the space where visceral memories of profound joy reside.

The large cloud overhead appeared white before the sunrise. There was only a hint of color in the eastern sky as the light grew in intensity. The puffy, enormous cloud that hung over the beach where I emerged from my car seemed to grab light greedily and use it to transform itself with each passing moment.

IMG_5260The walking sea turtle patrol rarely disappoints in variety of cloud and colors. This morning it seemed I was walking in beauty generated by a deity whose intention was to create spontaneous laughter from my depths. The colors and intensity of light were quite ridiculous. In a good way.

IMG_5267I have learned over the years to turn around often to watch for changes in the sky. In the west, away from the growing light, that one cloud appeared to glow with fire of the heavens that was more spectacular than the colors of the rising sun in the east. How can the sky look like this, I wondered.

IMG_5274There were great numbers of fish boiling in the water near the shoreline and following them was bottlenose dolphins rolling and pushing their sleek, dark gray bodies through the gentle surf. Everywhere I looked there were dorsal fins in pairs…mothers and babies.

The color isn’t manipulated here. My iPhone may not have gotten the color perfect, but it was close to how I saw it. I didn’t change it at all while processing it.

Then there was the rainbow cloud and by that time I was rather intoxicated by it all. Fortunately there was nobody else on the beach or I might have been reported as a wandering, raving drunk.

Rainbow cloud behind one of our sea turtle nests.

I looked for mother turtle tracks, checked every previously laid and marked nest in this section, and listened with a stethoscope to babies hatching and working hard in their process of being born and climbing into the light of this world. And the sky blazed with brilliance and a rainbow glowed overhead while dolphins feasted within a few feet of the sand where I stood. How could I not feel spontaneous, outrageous joy?

IMG_5297After I finished the section of beach I patrol and turned around to walk back, I allowed my mind to wander. Unless I was willing to experience the blackness before the dawn, I would never know the beauty of light. Isn’t that true in life? Unless we are willing to journey into darkness we will never experience the magic of light that is deep within us…that treasure of magnificent light.


Outrageous colors from east to west in the Pano shot.
Outrageous colors from east to west in the Pano shot.


Rainbows in the Desert

Rainbows in the Desert

Composite image. Base layer....Desert in Iraq provided by Ray Cooke...thanks!
Composite image. Base layer….Desert in Iraq provided by Ray Cooke…thanks!

Even with music filling my head through the ear buds, I could hear the rain as the large drops splatted on the paved trail. As the drops hit my bare arms and legs there was a delightful little smack. Blessed rain. As I pedaled on the path, every drop felt as if it was washing away dust from a dry, red desert.

IMG_5160The past few weeks of hate have withered my spirit. Like a fertile land in a time of severe drought, my soul thirsted for peace, love, joy. Yesterday’s sea turtle patrol gifted me with bountiful clouds, colors and a warm breeze as I walked. Medicine.

Then as I was driving to the back country trail before dawn, the building clouds gave me pause. The taller, the more likely they would produce lightning. I monitored them all the way to Gulf Shores and they appeared benign so before there was light to show the way, I began cycling.

A chuck-will’s-widow sang to me as I started. So clear and loud was the song.

1Light increased as I pushed on. Cottontail rabbits munched breakfast along the side of the trail. Birds sleepily flittered from their roosts to begin their search for breakfast. Through arching branches of live oak trees I could see colors illuminate the cloud tops.

6If there ever was a celebration of light and shape, it was this morning with the clouds showing off with multidimensional growth and outrageous hues. In the far west, exactly opposite of the rising sun, fingers of pastel pink light emitted from a central point of origin. What mysterious generator of light could create such a phenomenon? So soft, so subtle were the rays of light my phone camera couldn’t capture them.

31Grooving to happy music and singing along, I saw the wall of water falling from the sky and heading my way. JOY! FUN! A sensory treat of cold, fat rain drops against my hot skin along with sound effects– SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT!  as each drop smacked the pavement or my skin. A rainbow appeared over the Gulf amidst the gathering clouds. YEAH! A rainbow!

After reaching the end of a trail I turned around and eventually pedaled out of the rain. I intersected with another trail and rode it until it ended. After turning around I noticed a beautiful sheet of rainbow rain falling across the forest. The softness of the colors and their shimmering, gentle glow created a burst of laughter from within. Those lucky trees…all that rainbow rain!

5Eventually I turned onto a trail that would take me to my car. Before long I came upon clear puddles of water on the trail. Large drops were still dripping from dark green, waxy live oak tree leaves. Rainbow raindrops from the cascading shower seen from the distance.

simonedrawingAs I pedaled I imagined the soft, pastel colors splashing on me from the puddles and from above. Cleansed with rainbow energy. Renewed. Filled with nature’s sweetness. At peace once again. Joyful once again.

My soul felt so desert-like and then rainbows appeared three days in a row reminding me….it’s all okay.

Message in a Bottle…#3

Message in a Bottle…#3

IMG_5171It washed up during the sea turtle patrol walk not far from where I turned around. Usually I walk back on the road but the sand was firm so walking wasn’t difficult and it was a glorious sunrise with wild cloud formations over the Gulf and beach,

The bottle with the note in it was sitting at the edge of the surf. In the five seasons I’ve volunteered with our sea turtle team, I’ve found three messages in a bottle. Oddly enough, all during mid-July.

IMG_5224-2The first was after a wedding or commitment ceremony. It contained a prayer, images of the couple’s dreams and their vows. Their message, cast out into the Great Unknown, brought me a message of love and hope. I sent their hopes onward, out into the Universe, and kept the bottle in my office next to a dream board my daughter and son-in-law made.

_TSL2861The second bottle contained a very moving note about a young man that died in a distillery explosion in Kentucky. His mother’s friend sent her message out into the Great Mystery and asked the finder to let Kyle’s mom know it was found. I wrote a blog about it, let the damp note dry and sent it all to Rhonda, Kyle’s mom. I hope her grief was eased by knowing Kyle’s story lived on, his life touched others he had never met.


IMG_5222This last bottle had blue liquid in the bottom. Somebody forgot to use waterproof ink. They didn’t seal the cork. They also used a form letter…imagine sending a form letter out into the Universe. A fill-in-the-blank message in a bottle….with water-based ink. The paper was saturated and was falling apart when it was removed from the bottle.

_TSL1624I wondered….how often do people use a fill-in-the-blank wish list for their lives? Are we willing to live life by default or can we have the courage to work for our dreams? Are we sloppy in our life dreams? Are they easily erased by the challenges that come our way? Can we have the audacity to use permanent ink and create imaginative requests of our lives and be so full of belief that Something Out There will find it and respond that we seal the cork well so when it’s opened, the message is received with clarity.

Buddy Makes a New Friend--8 x 10 acrylic on canvas framed--Original SOLD, fine art prints AVAILABLE

It was a fun thing for the kids to do…fill out the form letter, toss it in the water and imagine. No big deal. But it reminded me to live with intention and realize that everything I do affects not only my life but the lives of others around me. Whoever opens up a blog post and reads it or sees one of my images of dolphins or whales or ocean life…they are, in some way, affected. When I smile at the grocery clerk or hold the door for a stranger….or snuggle with my 11 month old puppy…or rub my kitty friend’s ears…every action matters.

_TSL5322It’s easy to live in a vacuum and forget that we do make a difference. Every little thing we do….it matters.

_TSL5687What would your message in a bottle say? Would you use permanent ink? How would you prepare to send it out into the Great Mystery?