Blue Spring is a sacred place

I don’t belong here.

Walking the wooden path of Blue Spring State Park next to the clear shallow waters, I am a trespasser in the habitats of the West Indian Manatees who winter here. I walk among the cabal palms and nature’s stillness disturbed only by the distant roar of an engine somewhere above and other tourists who have come to see the manatees inch their way forward into the hot spring where they pause, reverently it seems, over the opening from deep in the earth below.

Blue Spring is a sacred place.

So gracefully does the Manatee approach the spring head, the deep hole through the limestone that pours 111 million gallons of water per day from deep below the earth’s surface, enough for every resident of greater Orlando to drink fifty gallons of water a day. The manatee knows nothing of nearby Orlando. Nothing about Epcot or Disney World. Nothing of the Holy Land theme park. Nothing of technology, malls, or vacations. She lives where she is . . . in this special place where she spends her winters to stay warm by the heated water of Blue Spring.

Her movements seem effortless, so fluid and gentle, like the water around her. Her huge flat tail, like a leaf fluttering in a soft breeze, inches her upstream toward the place where the earth is refreshed by the natural hot tub, before the water from deep below the surface cools as it flows downstream to replenish the river. Slowly, very slowly, she moves to the edge of the black oblong opening, this hole in the earth, the spring head, the epicenter of the green pool at the head of the river where she lives. Her tail stops moving. She stays very still and bows her head, like the Virgin Mary pondering the mystery of an ever-virginal Incarnation.

The trespassers get to see this. We can only see it if we push away the noisy culture we have brought to this place; push away the interruptions of a gathering crowd of people taking on cell phones, laughing, and loudly speaking to their fellow tourists as though they were at the mall, cruising past the mannequins in the shop windows or stopping by a town for an hour or two on a cruise. Instead this is where the manatees live more naturally than we.

The manatees have no enemies. None but us.

~ Gordon C. Stewart, excerpt from Be Still!: Departure from Collective Madness (January 23, 2017)


Notes:

I heard and then began to feel, in my chest, a deep rhythmic whooshing

A few years ago in a forest in northeast India, I heard and then began to feel, in my chest, a deep rhythmic whooshing. It sounded meteorological, but it was the wingbeats of a pair of great hornbills flying in to land in a fruiting tree. They had massive yellow bills and hefty white thighs; they looked like a cross between a toucan and a giant panda. As they clambered around in the tree, placidly eating fruit, I found myself crying out with the rarest of all emotions: pure joy. It had nothing to do with what I wanted or what I possessed. It was the sheer gorgeous fact of the great hornbill, which couldn’t have cared less about me.

The radical otherness of birds is integral to their beauty and their value. They are always among us but never of us. They’re the other world-dominating animals that evolution has produced, and their indifference to us ought to serve as a chastening reminder that we’re not the measure of all things. The stories we tell about the past and imagine for the future are mental constructions that birds can do without. Birds live squarely in the present. And at present, although our cats and our windows and our pesticides kill billions of them every year, and although some species, particularly on oceanic islands, have been lost forever, their world is still very much alive. In every corner of the globe, in nests as small as walnuts or as large as haystacks, chicks are pecking through their shells and into the light.

~ Jonathan Franzen, from Why Birds Matter, and Are Worth Protecting (NatGeo, January 2018)


Photo of Great Hornbill by Roham Sheikholeslami

Let Me Fly Bro, Let Me Fly…

Padre Island National Seashore’s Tom Backof holds a rehabilitated sea turtle before releasing it in to the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly 400 sea turtles were found stunned by the recent frigid weather. After being nursed back to health, the turtles were released at the national park. (Photo by Courtney Sacco, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, AP, wsj.com January 7, 2018)


 

Sunday Morning

When I found the seal pup alone on the far beach,
not sleeping but looking all around, I didn’t
reason it out, for reason would have sent me away,
I just
went close but not too close, and lay down on the sand
with my back toward it, and
pretty soon it rolled over, and rolled over
until the length of its body lay along
the length of my body, and so we touched, and maybe
our breathing together was some kind of heavenly conversation
in God’s delicate and magnifying language, the one
we don’t dare speak out loud,
not yet.

~ Mary Oliver, from “The Return” in From What Do We Know: Poems And Prose Poems.


Notes: Poem via Words for the YearSeal pup photo by gemma reddington

Sunday Morning

After a century, humpbacks migrate
again to Queens. They left
due to sewage and white froth

banking the shores from polychlorinated-
biphenyl-dumping into the Hudson
and winnowing menhaden schools.

But now grace, dark bodies of song
return. Go to the seaside—

Hold your breath. Submerge.
A black fluke silhouetted
against the Manhattan skyline …

Our songs will pierce the dark
fathoms. Behold the miracle:

what was once lost
now leaps before you.

~ Rajiv Mohabir, from “Why Whales Are Back in New York City


Notes:

Sunday Morning Sunrise

After reading “this several days ago, I’ve been unable to shake it from consciousness. “This” is driving the underlying current of my blog post shares of African animals.  Even this herd of elephants who wake to the morning sun and march in Tsavo National Park, seem to be doing so solemnly.


Blue Planet II: Take a Deep Breath.

Heartbreaking? (No, worse)

This Heartbreakbreaking Photo Reveals a Troubling Reality.  A small estuary seahorse, Hippocampus kuda, drifts in the polluted waters near Sumbawa Besar, Sumbara Island, Indonesia. Photographer Justin Hofman‘s image of a seahorse swimming with a discarded cotton swab illustrates the issues of pollution in our oceans. (Source: NationalGeographic.com, Sept 19, 2017)

Can’t read. Can’t watch. Can’t bear it.

8:30 p.m. Wednesday evening. I’m in Texas on assignment, Dallas thankfully. The planned evening workout at the gym has been canceled without much fuss.  I’ll need to carry the fuel of three consecutive days of nutritious Chick-fil-A, home fries and Kit Kat bars into a fourth day. You’d say, not possible to eat Chick-fil-A, home fries and Kit Kat bars three days in a row, and I would tell you not to bet against me.

I’m fully reclined on the bed leaning against the headboard.

A long day.

The MacBook warms my lap.  The TV remote control rests on my right.

I start with the day’s RSS feeds, rifling through the posts.  And stop.

The Headline shouted: Fishermen jailed, fined millions for massive shark massacre off Galapagos IslandsThe Ecuadorean navy made a shocking discovery earlier this month when, at the request of Galapagos National Park officials, it investigated a Chinese-flagged vessel cruising through the marine reserve off the Galapagos Islands. They found more than 6,600 illegally caught sharks lying in piles onboard the vessel known as the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999.”

The Galapagos Islands. A protected area.  6,600 illegally caught sharks. Wow.

I set the laptop down and grab the remote.

CNN: Houston. Hurricane Harvey. Levees topped out. Mothers’ clutching babies. The aged being hauled out of Nursing homes. Flood waters rising.

Click.

FOX: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and missles over Japan.

Click.

MSNBC: Trump and Russia.

Click.

BRAVO: The World Wildlife Fund commercial. 60 seconds, and I can’t avert my eyes.

I turn the TV off.

I twist in my ear buds, grab my iPhone and turn to Apple’s Coffeehouse playlist.  The first tune on the list is Glen Campbell’s (RIP 8/7/17) Gentle on My Mind:

I still might run in silence
Tears of joy might stain my face
And the summer sun might burn me till I’m blind
But not to where I cannot see
You walkin’ on the back roads
By the rivers flowin’ gentle on my mind

Lights out…

~ DK


 

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week


Source: Marlon du Toit (via Cheetah Camp)

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