Tag: nature

Effort Versus Payoff

Effort Versus Payoff

SimoneLipscombI drove over the Fish River high-rise bridge today and could see over Week’s Bay and out into Mobile Bay. I longed to be out on the water. It’s not like it is inconvenient for me to find water to launch my SUP board. It’s a matter of putting on my board shorts, surf skin top, hat, sunglasses, waist PFD, walking out to the garage, strapping the board onto the SUP wheels, grabbing my paddle and walking less than a quarter mile to the river.

The problem isn’t lack of water access. There are two main reasons I haven’t been boarding in a week.

First, I’ve been working very hard in my yard– garden, courtyard and shrubbery. Second, the wind has been screaming here. Even on the river, paddling hasn’t been especially welcoming with chilly (at times), strong wind.

Paddling this winter on the river
Paddling this winter on the river

I’m no paddle wimp though. I paddled all winter. Then March arrived. Twenty mile an hour breezes aren’t so fun. Stand-up paddlers become human sails catching any wind that is out and about. I’ve really been a bit spiteful towards the wind lately but it sure felt great as I raked today.

DSCN0109But the salt breeze is calling. The smell of salt marsh is a balm to my soul, a call to the home within myself. And so tonight, as I drift off to sleep, I will be thinking about a morning paddle in those 15-25 mph winds and will embrace the blow with appreciation that at least one direction will have some seriously great downwind action! Sometimes the effort is worth the payoff. Ya HOOOO!!!!

Celebrating Life

Celebrating Life

photo copyThe sun illuminated the water of Perdido Bay a soft magenta…no pink…no purple as it set. It was a glorious expression of nature’s beauty mirrored in the sky, the water….in osprey’s acrobatics, pelicans diving skills and a lone loon as it made its way through the lingering light.

I was having dinner with a couple of friends from Wolf Bay Watershed Watch after our prep meeting for the Jog the Bog race tomorrow. We get to watch as runners navigate through mud holes and creeks. I get to photograph them.

photo copy 3But discussion didn’t stay on the event. We really just enjoyed watching the sky, water and wildlife.

As we sat and watched and chatted, my thoughts turned to a dear person who celebrates 60 years of life tomorrow. I couldn’t help taking a few photographs with my iPhone and sending them along from the dock where we sat. We haven’t seen each other for over a year and perhaps even when we lived closer we didn’t really see each other….not really. But I couldn’t help but think of him and hope he’s able to celebrate his life tomorrow…in some way…even in Iraq where he works and lives now. He so much deserves to reap happiness and joy after a long career in service to his community….in helping others.

CopyrightSimoneLipscomb 3As I took photographs, alone on the beach, I said a birthday blessing for him. Here’s to you my friend….may your day be bright and this next year bring many blessings to you.

Happy Birthday Ray from Charlie, the Pirate's Cove Mastiff Mascot
Happy Birthday Ray from Charlie, the Pirate’s Cove Mastiff Mascot
A Wild Heart

A Wild Heart

Nothing is more vital than a wild heart. When we lose that, we’ve lost our connection to the untamed, the unruly….the undomesticated part of ourself. And when that happens, the planet suffers.

simone (7)Yesterday I met Sampson.

I walked into the conference room and high up on a shelf, he perched. At first I wasn’t sure if he was alive as I wasn’t expecting a bobcat to be…ummm…there. But he was very much alive.

simone (8)Sampson is a northern bobcat that was ‘owned’ by humans who had him declawed and kept as a pet. They ran into problems with his ‘wild’ behaviors and there were permitting issues so he was surrendered to a wildlife rescue group in Ft. Walton Beach who now provide a home for him. He doesn’t like to be outdoors but rather lives in the administrative part of their building.

Stanley Kubrick, my orange tabby companion
Stanley Kubrick, my orange tabby companion…can’t you see the 

resemblance When I looked into this beautiful bobcat’s eyes I immediately saw my orange cat Stanley reflected back through the thread of wildness that remains very present in Sampson. Only it was like Stanley with his superhero powers turned up to full force.

simone (10)There was no where to hide from his searching eyes. When they locked with mine I understood that his wild wisdom is still intact even though he lives indoors. It was a bit unnerving to have my own wildness, my own worthiness to be evaluated. It was as if I was exposed, open to his scrutiny with no tree or rock or pretense to hide behind. He nailed me.

simone (6)Sampson allowed me to photograph his greatness and then came down to my level and allowed me to stroke him and ‘love’ him. I was being accepted into his clan. And when I sat at the conference table, he jumped up and walked to me and head-butted or bunted my forehead when I lowered my head to his. Cats (domestic and wild) have facial pheromones that they deposit on other cats, people, objects as a way to mark something as safe. According to one vet, it is like leaving a signal of comfort and safety….trusting the person or environment.

As I reflect back on my interaction with this amazing animal I realize how grateful I am. To be accepted as a trustworthy friend, or a person of comfort and safety to a wild creature (especially one that has been removed from his natural environment by humans and ‘used’ as a pet) is a gift to me. Given the amount of damage humans do to wild animals and wild places, to find acceptance such as this makes my heart glad…and happy.

simone (11)What is needed on our part to find greater acceptance from wild hearts of the world? What must we do to find ourselves worthy to be accepted by the clan of wild beings that we, in the greater sense, have abandoned? How can we maintain our wildness, like Sampson, even when living in environments that can seem far away from wilderness?

simone (13)
Whether a bobcat–ripped from his natural home as a baby–or a wild manatee, chooses to bring me into their clan, I am deeply grateful that I am deemed as acceptable, as a trustworthy friend and a human that brings comfort instead of pain and destruction….on some level do they know that I am a champion of their wild hearts?



Courtyard bloomer...Image by Simone
Courtyard bloomer

I know I’m paying attention when I see the fine ‘hairs’ on the stems and petals of flowers. Or notice the grains of pollen resting on a petal after being released by a pollinator’s visit or a burst of March wind.

Ready to blossom...Image by Simone
Ready to blossom

I know I’m going slow enough when I see the details of life. For it is there that I realize and become aware of the depth of beauty around me.

University of Texas Arlington photo
University of Texas Arlington photo

Once a little green snake drank from a saucer of water my partner held for it. That moment of caring for such a small creature held such tenderness, such compassion. The details of daily moments, so precious. Such treasures.

Stargazer lily
Stargazer lily

When I allow myself to look deeper, to see with eyes of a student, nature has so much to share…to teach. Such loveliness to touch.

Orchid faces....always make me smile
Orchid faces….always make me smile

Orchids share their unique personalities with the details of their blossoms. Every opportunity I have to photograph them I feel lighter and happier. The faces I see in each blossom bring such joy.

Velvety petals

Life is a little softer, a little kinder when I take time to notice the details and embrace the moments to interact with beauty that nature offers. Some of these experiences will remain in my heart throughout my life.

To Be a Bromeliad Farmer….or Vulture Goddess?

To Be a Bromeliad Farmer….or Vulture Goddess?

This is NOT representative of this morning's behavior from my darlings.
This is NOT representative of this morning’s behavior from my darlings.

I awakened to soft thuds overhead. Cat play on carpet. I had been dreaming of a white vulture soaring overhead and waked in the middle of the dream. I lay there half awake wondering the meaning of such an unfamiliar symbol. Heady thoughts so early in the morning and soon interrupted by the thundering of cats down the stairway.

Gracie practiced her balance beam act on the footboard while Stanley practiced his gymnastic moves above me on the headboard. The hawk screeching outside my home and the combined acrobatics of my cat companions called me to get up and check the weather forecast.

Last night I read where high winds were predicted for today so when it was quiet outside I literally ran to put on my SUP boarding shorts and shirt and was out the door before coffee. I could smell the salt marsh far upriver so the wind announced itself with gentleness, prior to anything more than a whisper. By the time I reached the downriver side of Bemis Bay the ripples began. As I rounded the corner at Washer Woman’s Point, I saw and felt the beginnings of the ‘serious’ wind…but that wasn’t what really caught my attention.

Black vulture near Crystal River, FL
Black vulture near Crystal River, FL

Perched on a cypress tree was a beautiful vulture, wings spread, heart facing the morning sun. Her wing feathers were white and so I remembered the dream. But I had the rest of my four mile paddle to complete and lucky for me, had a downwinder on the way back up river.

My experimental wall garden..the 2 x 4 will be painted once it is dried
My experimental wall garden..the 2 x 4’s will be painted once they are dry

The rest of the day was spent putting together a project I’ve been dreaming of for weeks–designing and building a system to grow veggies and herbs on the east side of my home. Literally…on my home. It’s very sunny there, while the rest of my yard isn’t and the garage gets very hot in the summer so I wanted to install some sort of green wall to see if it would keep my garage from boiling during July and August.

My new bromeliad friends make the courtyard an even happier place
My new bromeliad friends make the courtyard an even happier place

I would rather grow flowers because I simply have a thing for them. But my farmer genes nudge me to try my hand once again at growing food. My dad and grandfather would probably laugh at my vertical garden. And honestly, I bought more flowers—some outrageous bromeliads. I can’t help it. Can’t I live off of beauty? Do I really have to eat?

All through the day of building, possibly cursing at trying to hold 8 foot 2 x 4’s up while screwing them into the wall, attaching the boxes, planting the plants into the boxes….I kept thinking about the white vulture. When I finished my farmer-girl activities I ran upstairs and looked up ‘white vulture’ on my trusty internet search engine.

It is a symbol of the feminine in Egyptian mythology. In Pueblo mythology it is a symbol of restored harmony that had been broken. It is a symbol of the return of the self. (Pause…..and repeat please).

Photo of me probably 17 years ago....
Photo of me probably 17 years ago….

How appropriate. How perfect. Since my father’s illness and death (when I was 21) I have been in a series of relationships with no gap between them. Recently I have done some deep healing as I find myself alone for the first time in 32 years. And I wanted to be alone as I found myself repeating the same old patterns. Sick of myself, I journeyed out on my own to heal. To grow. I couldn’t repeat the familiar behaviors anymore. It was deadening.

At this almost year mark of my time with only me and my baggage, I find myself dreaming of white vultures and realizing that I am discovering who I am…I had never given myself space or time to figure that out and in some ways had remained the wounded young woman throughout my relationships. How appropriate that in my time of conscious healing, the goddess of feminine energy pays me a dreamtime visit.

Self-portrait 2013
Self-portrait 2013

After all these years I am finally healing the old wounds. I have no idea where this new-found wholeness will take me but I’m guessing it has something to do with growing flowers or morphing into a vulture….once I figure it out I’ll let you know.