Tag: Gulf of Mexico

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?

page 4
page 5

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 Underlying Current

The Underlying Current

“The spirit of Walter Anderson thanks you.” This comment, while I was documenting the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, meant more than any other. It fueled me to keep going when the fumes, death and poisoning of sea creatures weighed me down with unbearable grief.

Part of mural from The Little Room, by Walter Inglis Anderson

Having a background as a state park naturalist and lover of the natural world, Walter Inglis Anderson’s words, drawings and paintings inspired me to connect deeply with elements of nature–not just animals, land and sea, but spatially through geometries of light and shadow.

Decades since his book, The Horn Island Logs, was published I have written and photographed many wondrous places and creatures in nature but more importantly, I have interacted with mountains, coasts, humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions, waterfalls, trees…I connect with much more than form, on a deep level.

I’m not concerned with only the technical aspects of a good photograph. I want to connect with the essence behind form. When I am in nature…underwater or in a forest….I simply show up and ask to be shown the light behind the physical manifestation. I have no agenda other than to be an observer wherever I find myself…with a camera, notepad or stripped of anything but my heart and mind to receive whatever gift is offered.

A while ago someone sent me information about an application for an exhibit at Walter Anderson Museum of Art. I’m not one to apply for exhibits and competitions, but the intention of the exhibit spoke to me so I applied. The subject was the human connection to water and I knew the exact image I would submit.

A small group of us were on a photography trip to Bimini to photograph  a friendly, resident pod of spotted dolphins. At some point during one of our days with the pod I stopped, as is often the case, to drink in the beauty of color, light and form. My friend Susan was preparing to photograph approaching dolphins. The reflections and light were surreal and I lifted my heavy, underwater housing and fired off one shot. The dolphins were so fast and Susan was swimming fast so there was one chance to capture what I felt as I communed with the sea and Her creatures.

That shot now hangs in the Water, Water exhibit at Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA).

I was excited for it to be chosen yet it felt almost destined. Even as I applied I fully expected that image to be part of the exhibit…very unlike my usual low expectations. But the real magic for me was when I delivered the print.

Mural painting by Walter Inglis Anderson in Community Center, Ocean Springs, MS

When I dropped off the print,  Bea–one of the museum employees– invited me to look around. I went to the Community Center, attached to the museum, that was filled with a mural painted by Walter Anderson many years ago. It was as if the spirit of Walter swept around me and I begin remembering how deeply his work influenced me over 30 years ago, when I first viewed the room.

Mural painting by Walter Inglis Anderson, Community Center in Ocean Springs, MS

Tears filled my eyes as a part of me seemed to slip back into full embodiment of this life, this present moment where my art somehow interacted with his art and a circle was closed…like everything finally made sense.

Mural painting by Walter Anderson, The Little Room

During the two-night opening of the exhibit I listened as John Anderson, Walter’s son, shared about his relationship with his father and about his dad’s work. I was taken to a greater understanding of myself as I listened and was able to chat with John and share how his dad’s work influenced me.

John said his dad was shunned, a sort of outcast in the Ocean Springs community because he isolated himself and lived on Horn Island. It resonated with me. So deeply am I connected to nature and the energy behind it all that I rarely feel as if I fit in with this consumer-driven world. I could happily spend my days and nights exploring woodlands and shores, climbing trails on mountains…so profoundly does solitude appeal to me. It’s only in the quiet and solitary ways of observance that I feel home in my skin.

Another new exhibit at WAMA focuses on Walter as Artist, Naturalist & Mystic. Yes! was the only word that came to mind as I reflected on my own life.

I remembered a morning surrounded by humpback whales in the pre-dawn darkness anchored 90 miles off the Dominican Republic. Fishy exhalations of the whales were illuminated in the moonlight and kissed my skin as they drifted in the warm air. As I did morning yoga the whales came closer and closer to the boat. I felt myself open to the Universe, ocean and whales–there was no separation, only perfect communion.  Since then I have known that communion to be as sacred and holy as any experience. It is my touchstone to purpose and presence here on this magnificent Ocean Planet.

There was no conscious memory of how Walter Anderson influenced me, but as I reflect back after viewing his murals and sketches from Horn island, it was as if he was a silent mentor riding an underlying current with me on the journey with whales, dolphins, sea lions, manatees. It is like he has been encouraging me simply from his audacity to do what called him to life.

Who knows how this life journey works. Something guided a friend (can’t remember who) to send me information on the exhibit. And the entire process brought me full circle to a place where I felt the spirit of Walter Anderson saying, “Well done.”

Mural painting by Walter Inglis Anderson in The Little Room

To have such deep love for the planet and all Her creatures and witness the destruction of so much is nearly unbearable. I only hope my work–through words, images, painting–helps connect human animals to that which they are part of–even if they have forgotten. May we all remember…and fall back in love with that from which we come.

Unaware my friend ‘Auntie’ Eydie was taking my photo, the unposed, pure love of his work shines through…in The Little Room.
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.

______

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.”