Tag: Gulf of Mexico

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!

Going Home

Going Home

One of my favorite experiences as a wildlife photographer is to be present when an animal that has been hospitalized and rehabilitated is released. This loggerhead sea turtle would stop and dig her  beak into the sand and wait for something to register. While I don’t have a reptilian brain I guessed she was getting her bearings using her sense of smell. Can you imagine after being captured–injured and sick–after living in such a magnificent place as the Gulf of Mexico…dealing with confinement? And then that glorious moment when you realize you have made it home. Home! What a celebration…for everyone.



As I was cycling today I dropped into inner stillness. As I pedaled and pondered, realization dawned. The angst over the past several months is rooted in a feeling of concern that we will wake up too late.

When I was studying Outdoor Recreation and Resource Management at Auburn many years ago, the curriculum took me on a journey through the great conservationist’s efforts. I read of John Muir who journeyed on foot through the wilds of the Sierra Nevada and Alaska. I read about his walk from Indiana to the Florida Keys in 1867. Through his diary entries the sacred beauty he experienced in Nature as well as the heartbreak he felt at the destruction of vast lands to fill pockets of the wealthy was evident. His writings heavily influenced the creation of places we now know as Yosemite National Park, Sequoia, Mount Rainer, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon and more.

Film maker Ken Burns had this to say about him: “As we got to know him he ascended to the pantheon of the highest individuals in our country; I’m talking about the level of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Thomas Jefferson and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jackie Robinson–people who have had a transformational effect on who we are.” Muir’s writings inspired Teddy Roosevelt to create conservation programs and the first national monument…Yosemite National Park.

As I reflect on his life, John Muir reminds me that one person can indeed make a huge difference. Activism, people caring enough to be involved in whatever way their passion leads them is what makes a country great. Not hate, not violence. Love….for places, people…whatever the heart whispers.

And then after lunch I read where the new US government administration wants to allow oil and gas drilling in these sacred lands that John Muir lovingly championed in the late 1800’s. I was torn between wanting to: 1) Scream at the greedy individuals ‘leading’ our country into darkness; 2) Express shock at their unapologetic push to deregulate protection for our environment; and 3) Sit and wait for inspiration to come so I might be a person that makes a difference.

“There is nothing more eloquent in Nature than a mountain stream, and this is the first I ever saw. Its banks are luxuriantly peopled with rare and lovely flowers and overarching trees, making one of Nature’s coolest and most hospitable places. Every tree, every flower, every ripple and eddy of this lovely stream seemed solemnly to feel the presence of the great Creator.” Muir wrote this September 12, 1867 about a branch of the Clinch River in the Cumberland Mountains.

He wrote this about the Oneness of all life. “There is not a fragment in all nature, for every relative fragment of one thing is a full harmonious unit in itself. All together form the one grand palimpsest of the world.”

“Muir was a quintessential romantic frontier figure. Unarmed, carrying only a few crusts of bread, a tin cup, a small portion of tea, a notebook and a few scientific instruments, Muir walked into the vastness of the Sierras to search out truths. Single-minded, he did not hesitate to challenge the accepted authorities and their explanations regarding the wilderness he loved; he formulated his own theories and carefully searched out the evidence….he was an activist. He not only explored the west and wrote about its beauties–he fought for their protection….In the forests and national parks he helped to preserve, he gave the natural world back to the people of America.” Frank E. Buske wrote this in the introduction to Wilderness Essays.

Why are we so willing to have our sacred lands–set aside because of their beauty and uniqueness–raped and ravaged by greedy politicians and their backers? My heart is breaking as each day brings a new onslaught of attacks against our environment and the places held most sacred by those who saw this great country before it was developed. When we fail to remember history, we are destined to be destroyed by ourselves.

While I have screamed–and quite honestly scared my dog and cats and quite possibly the neighbors–and I have expressed shock to my friends and companions, today I find myself more at peace with waiting…for inspiration, the right door opening, the right phone call that leads to opportunity to share my work with more people.

I long to wander like Muir and connect with the magnificence of Nature and feel first-hand the spark of the Divine that lives within all life. And like him, write with passion to inspire others to care. And with my cameras capture the essence of life that shines so brightly if we take the time to see it in a flower, a stream, a dolphin, a frog, a mountain.

It may seem as if I am doing nothing sometimes but this pause reminds me: I am like an arrow being slowly drawn through a bow. With steady determination and a sense of purpose my work will find its mark. Let us remember that everything we do makes a difference. We are part of the solution. Let us rise up to protect that which we love.

Where Wild Can Breathe

Where Wild Can Breathe

The Gulf of Mexico called me this morning. Come walk with me. So before sunrise I parked my car and set bare feet upon white sand.

The state park is squeezed on all sides by real estate–expensive real estate. And the former governor…the one forced to resign over shady dealings….set in motion construction of a monument to himself in the form of a convention center and hotel on state park property. Yes, there had been one there before it literally fell apart from repeated bashings from the sea and salty winds. But there is a glut of condos on the beach now and a convention center nearby and a new one being built just north.  But I digress….

Walking along the beach in the state park is a nice respite from walking in front of condos that form a wall of concrete along the Gulf Coast. Little jewels like Gulf State Park, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and the Gulf Islands National Sea Shore give  wildlife a chance to exist. They allow human’s wild spirits a place to spread out and connect with something greater than ourselves.

This morning I spent time contemplating the fate of our planet. We’re the self-absorbed animals of the planet…the only species willing to destroy our own habitat in order to amass wealth and power that lead to a non-future created by our destructive actions. Such a bizarre species.

It’s weird to witness the current, strange goings-on where decades of effort invested in protecting fragile areas, sacred areas, is being wiped away  in a few months and these amazing places are going to the highest bidder to exploit. Have we forgotten the past?

Remember Erie Canal catching on fire because there was so much pollution in it? Or smog so horrible you couldn’t see in cities like Los Angeles and New York? It’s easy to forget the things we depend on for survival….things like clean air and water. Unregulated corporations and their push for profit-at-any-cost nearly destroyed us. We shouldn’t forget this. Ever.

And yet there is a huge push to roll-back environmental protections and demolish agencies charged to enforce them. And agencies tracking our changing climate. Some people have forgotten our past, our history and how lack of concern, compassion and common sense destroys wildlife and human health.

Places like parks and seashores set aside and protected feed our souls. They remind us of beauty and invite us to walk in beauty….with beauty…and help us be mindful the interconnectedness of all life.

When I visited Johnson Beach–part of Gulf Islands National Seashore–after visiting Gulf State Park this morning, I felt a noticeable difference. It’s protected from development. There’s no hotel on the beach or fishing pier. The only structures seen are wooden boardwalks to protect the dunes, a pavilion area and a narrow roadway that is frequently covered with sand as the beach reclaims it for its own.

In Johnson Beach one can park and walk beyond the road, beyond most human comings and goings, and breathe deeper, fuller. A release of the spirit occurs when we stop looking at watches or cell phones and allow wild beauty to pull us completely into the present moment.

As I stood on the beach there this morning, near a loggerhead sea turtle crawl, I noticed a lightness of energy and freedom that is missing in places overshadowed by high-rise condos or surf shops or tee shirt stores. We need places where wild can breathe deeper and fuller, where nothing comes between nature and humanity.