Tag: OCEAN

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?

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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.
Reunion at the Pub

Reunion at the Pub

Today my friend Gabriela and I made the journey to a local pub….unfortunately it wasn’t in Ireland…but it was Irish. We celebrated the anniversary of our journey to the west coast of Ireland last year. A year ago we were packing to go….today we were both sharing how we miss Ireland every single day.

In the walk back through time via my journal, I read about Fanore Beach…”We hit the tide just right and could photograph the sky reflected in tidal pools. The rivulets reminded me of watery veins–and how the sea is in my blood…in all of our blood.”

We drove north afterwards and stopped by a store/post office. The clerk had a freshly made Brigid’s Cross. I commented on it and told her we planned our trip to coincide with Brigid’s Day. She gifted me with the cross. She said her sister made it and she would get another one. I was moved to tears as Brigid was such a powerful healing force when I visited Ireland months earlier. That cross still sits on my altar and reminds me of kindness and Ireland.

Later we visited the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb from the Neolithic Period….4200 BC to 2900 BC. Being February, there were not many people. I wanted to play my new Irish whistle after photographing the site. It was very windy and a rain/sleet storm blew in quickly. Everyone left and I was there…alone but not really. I sensed a strong presence there. I stayed behind determined to offer music to those that rested there. The wind made playing very challenging but as I played with my heart, under sleet and heavy rain clouds, the rain stopped.

I watched as the sun split the clouds. The sky turned amazing blue and I was able to capture delicious images of the structure. In the photographs it appears as though the clouds are being pushed away from the top of the stone….a clearing of sorts. I felt it was a thank you for the music, or my attempt at music, and good intentions.

Several times while connecting with nature in Ireland, I had immediate experiences returned after I wished the spirits well. It felt as if the Shining Ones were right there, barely hidden by a thin veil. I wrote a message I heard from them in my journal, “You are one with us…Ta’ tu’ ar cheann linn.”

After Gabriela and I parted this afternoon, in Alabama, I realized that seeing her brought such joy and sadness….joy because she’s an awesome person and friend and she reminds me of Ireland and sadness because she reminds me of Ireland. It was a while before we saw each other after we returned last year. I felt the need to withdraw but never understood until today. I noticed I felt like I did when I was a child and left the Smoky Mountains….withdrawn, sad, didn’t want to leave …I had emotional pain every time I left those sacred mountains. It’s the same with Ireland. Today, as we sat in the Irish pub in Pensacola, all the great memories of our travels last February came back and I cherish them, even when remembering makes me miss Ireland even more.

I suspect each of us has a place or places that speak strongly to our hearts. The mountains of North Carolina have spoken to me since childhood. Celtic spirituality has spoken to me since my teenage years and has remained the basis of my deep connection to Nature and God. It lead me to Ireland.

It is my wish that everyone connect strongly with a place…a place they can visit and return to….maybe live in even….and allow that place to touch their hearts deeply, profoundly. When we open to connections such as this, we open to wholeness and a profound sense of being alive and at one with all life.

 

 

 

 

A Living Landscape

A Living Landscape

John O’Donohue often wrote or spoke about the Irish way of experiencing the landscape. Long ago the goddess Eriu, was sovereign over Her land. The modern name Eire evolved from the name of the goddess. So people of Ireland have a long history of living in sacred relationship with the landscape.

When I visited Ireland in September 2017 and again last February, I was amazed at how present the spirits of the land and sea were with me. I simply had to cast a thought or feeling out to nature and was immediately enveloped with a deep connection to the place. Since returning, I have puzzled over this phenomena.

For example, one of the places my friend and I stayed was a newer holiday home development. It was near Clifden on the west coast and on a small river. The energy felt ‘off’ there. Like something was amiss….not dangerous or seedy but like there was imbalance.

The morning after sleeping the only night there, I walked out along the edge of the forest overlooking the river. It snowed during the night so it was quite lovely. I took my newly purchased Low D Irish Whistle and stood along the woodland and played it with the intention of gratitude for the spirits there. As soon as I began I felt the energy shift and it was as if the spirits were peeking out from hiding places.

I kept playing with the same intention and started looking around and saw, buried beneath snow and brambles, trash from the construction that had been tossed over the edge. It was an obvious disconnection from the beauty and disrespect for the spirits of the land. With ease I sensed their appreciation for someone noticing and remembering them. I wept in the cold, freezing snow as I sensed the return flow of gratitude.

It wasn’t until I was finishing my newest book, The Stone Hut, I realized the answer to a question that haunted me since I first returned from Ireland. The question was this: How can I connect so effortlessly with the energies of nature in Ireland and here, in the United States, it’s like they are guarded, wary and often unwilling to connect. Understanding finally dawned as I watched John O’Donohue’s video, A Celtic Pilgrimage, for the ga-zillionth time.

Irish people have had a genuine love and appreciation for a living landscape that goes back literally ages. For some reason, the deep immersion of writing about ancient Ireland in my book and O’Donohue’s explanation helped me understand that in the US, the land here has been ‘conquered’ and put to use with little care or concern. It’s the anthesis of walking into a living landscape….it’s walking into open space and nothing more–empty space ready for development and building and conquering.

I suspect this is the fundamental problem with the US as we see the terrible darkness emerge from the collective unconscious of our foundation. We can blame a government administration but in reality I offer that the true difficulty lies in the way in which this country was began….conquering of sovereign, native people–with deep respect for the land–by invaders that declared themselves lord over every tree, animal, river, and rock.

No wonder the spirits of the land are hesitant to connect with humans. Centuries of two-legged domination would make the most beautiful of spirits wary…rightly so.

I have longed to return to Ireland, to live there along the west coast. The amazing spiritual energy is still very much intact–a rarity in this increasingly manic world. What I discovered, in writing The Stone Hut, was a call to wholeness within myself from which all relationships can be birthed. I don’t know if I’ll ever live there, but wherever I live I will be more conscious of what I bring to the living landscape and what I can do to cherish and protect it and all life there.

My first thought, in writing this blog, was it was a way to procrastinate the tedious process of formatting my book for E-book reading. While it began as that, it unfolded into something I have wanted to piece together and express for a very long time.

Look for my new e-book, The Stone Hut, coming very soon. It’s a story that crosses time and place set in ancient and modern-day Ireland. Archetypal characters take readers beyond the two characters to the realm of soul.

 

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?