Tag: MANATEES

Vibrations of Nature

Vibrations of Nature

Every night I go outside on the screened porch with my dog and two cats and we sit and listen. The frogs in the pond in the field sing their froggy songs. Insects drone and click and make the branches of the ancient live oak trees come alive. Barred owls call in the branches overhead. The more I let go and just listen, the more relaxed and at peace I feel.

In the mediations on the front porch, with nature’s music in surround sound, I have come to understand that the vibrations of nature are not just beneficial to humans, they are vital to our health and wellbeing.

The frequency of natural sounds helps us drop deeper into connection and oneness with nature…with ourselves. We have forgotten that we are simply another part of nature. And in so doing are literally destroying the planet…and ourselves.

A recent report says up to 1 million species are expected to go extinct soon….out of 8 million species. More than 10% of the species on this planet are expected to soon be extinct. I have tried to avoid this report and yet it keeps coming up on NPR, in articles on social media. I know it’s bad news and could I possibly just pretend one more day that it’s not so bad?

So I go outside at night and listen. With my dog. And the cats. The frogs take me deeper into right relationship with their watery world. The insects bring me into their realm of clicks and drones, almost like dolphins or whales of the sea. The owls call to the primal strength in me. I feel my bones and go deeper…deeper…deeper into nature, into this body which is part of nature.

Tonight I had a vision of my passion and love for the planet growing and spilling out of the pitcher of my heart into a clear stream as it flows and joins with others whose love and passion for the planet is also flowing from their hearts. I saw a clear river that is growing with love for all life and is filled with pure intention. I saw Oneness growing into a wave of love.

We as a species have exhausted the old ideas…war, power, money…none of that works nor will it ever work or be a solution. If we repeat the same behaviors we get the same results. So it’s time my sisters and brothers to start trying something different…I believe an answer is to recognize our connection to everything and everyone else…Oneness. Once we recognize ourself in everything else, we come to value everything….every thing….else.

Go outside and listen to the vibrations of nature….feel them and allow them to take you into the flow. I’ll meet you there.

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.
Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait

A true self-portrait evolves and changes as we change and grow. Several years ago I created one and found it the other day. I decided to create a new one and see how it might be different.

Our lives are works of art that evolve as we change and grow. I’m so grateful for the adventures, both inner and outer, that have shaped my life.

What shapes your life?

Threads

Threads

He stood at the edge of the swamp–antlers upright, eyes staring at me. It was the briefest of glances but I still remember the steam rising from the murky water and streaming from his nostrils as he sniffed and snorted. Magnificent, strong, ruler of his domain, the encounter with the buck has remained burned into my memory…in my heart….and every time I pedal past that gap in the trees I glance to see if he is there. Five years ago…and he’s still there in my mind.

After slowly awakening this morning, I picked up my iPad to check email and realized that for over six years I have opened email in the morning expecting a message. A message from him. I didn’t realize that simple act of finger touching glass was an act of hope. Why this came to consciousness today I don’t know. There is no pining away or waiting for him…I go on with life…so it was a surprise that there’s still the hope lingering….hanging like a thread. I had no idea…

Years pass yet there are imprints…people, animals, places…that simply don’t fade or lose their importance. The connection I have with Nature is like that…and those threads, once pulled, take me to humpback whales, elk, coyotes, dolphins, manatees, tiny reef fish, sea turtles, sunrises, sunsets, purple mountains, cliffs and seascapes, rocks. Once pulled, these threads always lead me back home–to my soul, my true self–the little girl who talked to nature spirits and animals.

And that’s where I find myself these days….embracing that nature child whose wisdom is intact, who knows that Oneness isn’t just a flaky idea, who still hugs trees and talks to whales and dolphins and manatees….and spirits that few others feel.

The Magical Nature Child…all roads lead home to Her. Every thread of memory weaves the tapestry of life that is Her playground, Her sacred realm. This then is where compassion and kindness reside and love for all life is treasured. This then is the place of beauty and sacredness for all life…it’s where instinctual wisdom blooms like a lotus blossom every time I sink my toes in the mud.

Dare to Listen

Dare to Listen

From my journal, March 15th…One thing stood out from the afternoon–I need more time underwater. You know my gills are dry when floating in cold, green water brings immense contentment.

For months I have felt change coming. I knew I would sell my large, beautiful home nestled under grandmother live oak trees and move but had no idea where. I thought it would be a local move but nothing was clear. In meditations I kept hearing to wait until March and the answer would come.

I was scheduled to be in Crystal River for a book signing mid-March so loaded my kayak and camera gear, wet suit, dry suit and a few clothes. After arriving I was on the water, paddling in high winds, just 30 minutes after a 7 hour drive. After half-hour paddle I was underwater.

The tide was high, the water was green but as I floated watching particles float by with my underwater housing and camera, I was happy. Cold, shivering but happier than I had been in a while. That was when I knew it was time to move to a place where being underwater was a regular occurrence, not a special treat.

On the drive from Crystal River to O’Brian, Florida I saw a huge gathering of migrating birds….and scribbled this–Chaos of white bodies and wings black-tipped in flight, swirling, random uncertainty. Invisible alignment of orderly progression into three V’s moving united to true North. A pause. A massive spiral of flight–breathing, expanding, contracting–infinite mind of Oneness riding the thermals, a vortex of living matter organized in the moment as birds in migration. Random thoughts colliding in confusion of where, when, how, why and then fresh wind blows through to carry away thoughts about thoughts. Slowly ideas begin to form over the vortex of my life and the path opens before me.

Being with manatees always changes me, helps me ground into my life more and the connection in March helped me get clear about my next step….more underwater photography regularly. My intention to document and share the beauty of nature deepened. And in the process of determining the next step in my life, another passion has arisen.

Years ago I lived on 18 acres of land and started working with the land and connecting people with nature there. A series of personal life events brought that to a close and now, almost 15 years later, I find myself wanting to once again help people deepen their relationship with nature through creating a sanctuary where they can visit.

As I deepen my commitment to be underwater more and share the story of our water planet, I renew the intention to create a sanctuary with land, trees and a home that calls me….somewhere near High Springs, Florida. Fears creep in and questions about how it will all come together, but when that happens I drift back in my mind to the cold, green water and manatees that reminded me where my heart beats happiest.

I have built a strong foundation of work on the Alabama Coast and that will remain solid as my work expands and deepens into the flow of freshwater springs and quiet rivers. The voice of the soul moves us ever-closer to perfect alignment with our purpose if we dare to listen.