Choose Your Resources Wisely

It was misty on the big thumb that is Clearwater Florida this morning.  We live on the inside curve of the Clearwater-St Petersburg peninsula.  In the armpit, if you will, of “old Tampa Bay.”  The bay is beautiful. Shades of watery blue beneath whitecaps and the shadows of Great Blue Heron wings. A clam pot for birds, a safe passage for kayak and paddleboard the Bay lacks the primordial punch of the great womb that is the Gulf of Mexico.

We drove North and then West to the causeway at Dunedin.  We passed through the gate and maneuvered into a parking lot for 100 with 98 spaces left. The thick fog of a bottom-heavy steel gray cloud was just rising as we kicked off our shoes on flour white sand. Bands of blue green water snaked through the opaque ashen waves as the rising sun topped the palms at the edge of the beach. If you want to have color, you have to have light. Without illumination, life is just shades of gray.

 

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Those that show up at the beach on a morning like this didn’t come with sunscreen and a People magazine.  We come to the edge to restore and rejoice, or to soak up “beach time”, before the vacation runs out. Some stand ankle deep in salty water to reclaim dreams, or discover new journeys. Some come to petition the deities of great bodies of water for their divine assistance. Today I wasn’t clear who was doing what, except for one of us.

I saw them coming.  The two women walked slowly towards us wearing ultramarine blue t-shirts in different sizes. The older woman walked on the left. The deep lines of her face framed her expression of deep gratitude.  Clearly this was an extraordinary day for her. She radiated joy; to be walking on this land between the waters, on this March day, with this young woman.  The older woman held her worn-well Keds in her hand as they walked barefoot near the water. She leaned in, listening attentively to the words that flowed from her companion. Neither seemed to feel the sharp shell rubble or notice the few passersby.  They were intent, focused.

Indeed! They were pregnant with change. The younger woman was supremely pregnant, probably beyond pregnant and well into “overdue.”  She walked strong, straight but with great care, balancing a belly that looked as if it might burst open at any moment.

 

“You came to the right place,”

I thought, thinking of the saltwater that filled that belly. Then I realized,

We are always in the right place,”

The young woman spoke fervently, passionately. Her words caught on the wind, tumbling across the top of the water. Her arm movements animated her story and the old women with the wrinkles smiled a quiet smile. We passed unseen.

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It is my practice to stand at the edge of earth and water to check my trajectory and clear the emotional flotsam. Placing my thoughts in fragile shells, I create a shrine of temporal impermanence that holds my concerns and hopes for this day. The Gulf is my resource for reflection on the mud and miracles that happen daily. I imagine the Nereids float silently nearby, offering illuminating advice that wordlessly seeps into mind and heart through the souls of our feet stuck deep in the moving sands.  Their whispered encouragements float down from Tern’s wing,

 “Be brave! Be strong! Live! Live!”

Standing in sunlight and blue water one moment, and chilly wind of storm clouds the next, it’s all here, and it’s all good.

“Look at the sea, She lives there,

and She knows how it works,”

was my silent reassurance.

I walked up the beach a bit and found a message scratched in the sand by a sure hand on a sturdy stick.  It was addressed to the Sea and the Wisdom herein,

“I am ready now

I am ready now Baby”

March 19, 2018

She chose her Resources wisely I thought, as I wrote,

Godspeed!

in the sand with my toe. We are all in this together.

 

(http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Nereides.html)

Photos: Carol Martell, Honeymoon State Park, Dunedin Florida

Maybe the sea is heaven, Maybe heaven is the Sea

What is a beach? What is the sea? Do I reflect her or does she reflect me?

 

SeaGodsWe went down to the beach early this morning. It is a miracle to have unlimited access to “the beach” in the heat of a Florida summer. Few things feel better than immersion in sun warmed salt water. The Gulf is that; a bowl of gathered water and suspended “stuff” all assimilating into the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. Despite the human need to name and claim, it is not of Mexico, nor of the United States. It is the cupped hands held under the spigot of North America’s rain. Water from the sky holding by force of attraction all the flavors and flotsam of each place and experience on the journey.

The same water that existed on Earth millions of years ago is still here.

But did you know it is all the same water? We are a closed system here on planet Earth, a giant terrarium. Water moves around, as water vapor, liquid water, and ice. Water is a shape shifter, changing its form as conditions dictate. Never lost, only changed.

“Although some matter, such as meteors from outer space, are captured by Earth, very little of the Earth’s substances escape into outer space. This is certainly true about water. Therefore the same water that existed on Earth millions of years ago is still here. The global water cycle dictates that the same water is continually being recycled all around the globe.”

http://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/oceanography/ocean-earth-system/ocean-water-cycle/whaleshark7So there I sat on the nearly uninhabited beach, sun drowsy and half immersed at the edge of the water in a yellow beach chair, communing with the fishes. From a suggestion of an unknown source, I began imagining that I could dissolve into that water, let my molecules float across oceans, and still be conscious. I envisioned drifting without fear through Amphitrite and Poseidon’s domain. And what is the beauty of being dissolved? No concern for fear, or pain, or survival, water always survives. Weightless and worry free; “going with the flow,” in the most literal sense.

I wonder if this is what physical death feels like?

I imagined the behemoth polka-dotted whale shark; the vacuum mouth, filter feeder seen here recently. She swept me up but I passed right through her; no harm done. I wondered about visioning such peace at the time of death, on the anniversary of my birth 59 some years ago. Life is just so tricky.

I think I will call it “Aqua Therapy.” Becoming suspended in the Sea is the perfect solution for the raw chafe of human beings and the pesky nymphs of modern living. Too many electronics? Too many miles? Too many words? Go sink in, soak up the magical medium of life on this planet. Mystical, mercurial changer of shape and form, carrier of life and death, water is the ultimate denominator of life here on the Blue planet. She is the ultimate balancer as well.

Is it an accident of creation or invention that all things electronic can’t survive a simple swim? What does it say about our constant E-companions? TVs, phones, pads and pods are all neutralized by our mother liquid. Yet we are that, a structured cclosedsystemontainer of dissolved minerals. We are that: a very elaborate canteen of fluid and form holding tiny beings, vast communities of differentiated cells, infinitesimal chains holding all human memory.

Maya, Maia, Me

Maybe it was the color of the sky, or the warm gentleness of the water. As the chair sunk into the deep shell sand of the shallows, I contemplated the impermanence of my temporary liquid neighborhood. The tiniest of fish moved rhythmically towards beach, back and forth with the breath of the waves. The edge of water and sand renegotiated with each wave, endless infinite shuffling of inhabitants amidst water, wind or predator.

What came next was a “what if” epiphany. For a moment there was a swirl of illumination. We protect ourselves a lot. We focus without pause on the survival of a body that will not survive… no matter what. We always look up to others and out to belief systems in search of our meaning of life, and our “after life” address. Separating death and life with definite parameters, – like having a human body.

What if heaven is like the sea? What if heaven is the sea? What if we are heaven?

In a Google search for an attractive “Water system” illustration I found this; exploding all facts and theories thus far in place on what water can do, what water can be, where water came from.

Deep Underground, Oceans Of Water May Be Trapped In A Crystal ‘Sponge’

by L. CAROL RITCHIE

June 15, 2014 3:27 PM ET

Science teachers may have to add a whole new layer to the water cycle. Scientists have discovered evidence of a vast reservoir of water hiding up to 400 miles beneath the surface.

“The discovery could transform our understanding of how the planet was formed, suggesting that Earth’s water may have come from within, rather than from collisions with large, icy comets.”

The water is trapped in a blue mineral called ringwoodite that sits in the mantle, a hot, rocky layer between the Earth’s crust and outer core. That means the water is not the familiar liquid, vapor or ice, but a fourth, mineral form. We reported earlier this year on a rare diamond containing a microscopic piece of ringwoodite that bolstered evidence for the vast wet zone.

It is likely the largest reservoir of water on the planet, and could be the source of the oceans’ liquid. The study was published in the journal Science.

The study is also remarkable for the discovery that melting and movement of rock occurs in a layer of the mantle known as the transition zone, between the upper and lower mantles, the Guardian reports. Most melting was thought to occur at much shallower depths.

“Geological processes on the Earth’s surface, such as earthquakes or erupting volcanoes, are an expression of what is going on inside the Earth, out of our sight,” said Geophysicist Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University, co-author of the study.

“I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet. Scientists have been looking for this missing deep water for decades,” he said.

The study relied on seismometers across the U.S. and lab experiments simulating rocks under high pressure, says Nature World News.

“Ringwoodite here is key,” it notes. “Its crystal-like structure makes it act like a sponge and draw in hydrogen and trap water.” It could be a vast amount of water, says the Guardian. “If just 1 percent of the weight of mantle rock located in the transition zone was water it would be equivalent to nearly three times the amount of water in our oceans, Jacobsen said.”

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/06/15/322246690/deep-below-oceans-of-water-may-be-trapped-in-a-crystal-sponge

Nice to meet you ringwoodite.

And where do we go from here?

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Last Day

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We have reached the last day of our last week here. It was miraculously spent in a square duplex cottage, built optimistically on stilts, on the apron of beach edging a thin spit of land called, by some: Palm Island.

This is a quiet place, most days the beach sees more birds than people and the prevailing sounds are the waves and the wind. This center section of Don Pedro Island is set apart from the mainland by the inward tracing of the intercoastal waterway, a thin green river lined with impenetrable Mangrove colonies denying access to the casual boating interloper. What keeps this island quiet is a short ride on a car ferry whose $50 price tag for cars really curtails one’s desire to come and go.  You only get to stay, if you have the clams to pay.

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Ours is one of the more modest perches, in a fine position on the sand. We could share breakfast conversation with our right hand neighbors were we to be able to hear them over the sound of the surf. There is nothing so precious as close proximity to the sea, especially to these decade long desert dwellers in the winter. Walking briskly, one can walk from Gulf to Bay in about 4 minutes from this vantage point. Crashing waves and windy bluster on the west side, peaceful green water, manatee and kayakers on the East.  It would be hard to be more one with water without being in a boat.

southbeachBuilt over the past 20 years with typical human hubris, this community is a neighborhood of Beach Houses; human poachers in the land of perpetual metamorphosis.

There are many massive multistory edifices here, many empty and more with For Sale signs than without.  They all stand on impossibly tall Heron legged pilings to keep them safe from the whim of moving water.  We hear from the old timers that those without feet came and went about 10 years ago. These sand castles will stand in this golden and blue-green place…until they don’t.  All barrier beaches move, sometimes across centuries, sometimes in a few days.  Ask those from Long Beach, NY, a place where more than one in our family /friend circle saw the unthinkable happen. (www.businessinsider.com/hurricane-sandy-flooding-pictures-2012-10)

We are grateful to be a visitor, to hear waves all day and all night, to witness the beauty in front of us “right now.” And is that any different from anyone’s life? Is anyone’s existence much different than a beach house with its toes pounded into the sand? Does anyone really have more of a guarantee of safety and longevity than this?

Thinking deep thoughts is easy when time is relative and days defined by sunrise and sunset.  Weather is the mist on your face and the flotsam at your feet. Wind and wave is a whole body experience best studied with wet feet and no agenda.  Each day brings new topography and new shells; the colorful refuse of life out there. Soft white Angel wings, pastel periwinkles and cockles of all sizes are tossed up like handbills for upcoming miracles.  It is nearly impossible to pass up these treasures, except when the dolphin passes by, or the Osprey dives for dinner, close enough to get you wet.

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Being surrounded by water on three sides washes the soul in its most fundamental element. Standing at the edges is to walk in both worlds of me and us. There is magic in awareness of a single human’s diminutive status in the overall scheme of things, and the coexisting sense of Unity with the flowing body of the mercurial and magnanimous Gulf of Mexico.  Under these conditions, the precepts of present human culture as we know it are “all shot to hell.”

As they should be. Thanks Mama Cocha

Cape San Blas

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“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth”
–Rachel Carson

Cape San Blas

“On the way” to family and Minerva in stasis, is Florida’s Panhandle. With the desire for our favorite vehicle for rest and reboot called “Beach,” we dropped out of the Interstate corridor for some coastline adventure. Moving South eastward, we eased our way through Panama City, one traffic light at a time. This Spring Break Mecca is an older, possibly more tired version of Ft Walton Beach. FWB being a 20- someone’s idea of “The Beach.” The string of beach towns on this corridor are a congestion of high rise hotels, Beachfront Bars, and multiple editions of bright blue beach emporiums memorable for their subtly suggestive 30 ft shark painted on the front. Beach is baudy here. It isn’t a set, or even a back drop to fun in the sun. It is a drop cloth to the uniquely human search for diversion and debauchery. I was hopeful that our destination was something completely different.

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To the Real Estate hawkers, and to internet searchers such as myself it is “the Forgotten Coast.” http://www.forgottencoastline.com/ If forgotten means natural and undeveloped, let’s hope everyone not already living here, continues to have amnesia. This is not a Florida that I have ever seen. It is still alive and breathing. The sands sway on the hips of the gentle and powerful mother gulf, there is life here on the edges.

We are in a place call Cape San Blas, Florida. A thin arm of green trees and white sand sprinkled precariously in the blue water of the Gulf of Mexico facing a real small town called Port St. Joe.” Y’all have a nice day,” seems to have some meaning here. Just after Port St. Joe’s, and just before Indian Pass and Apalachicola a spit of land elbows outward and upward. This pile of sand points at such a rakish angle that movement over time and weather is virtually guaranteed. The real estate signs announce these lots as X. As in X marks the spot for the next washout. Don’t bother to call us unless you like risk, the risk of discounting the purpose of barrier beach in the natural scheme of things. There is a great deal of humor in Nature.

Apalachicola…., let that name roll off your tongue a few times. Apalachicola. It is somehow more than a name. It creates a sound that is something between a song and a sneeze. Anyplace with a name that melodic must hold some magic. This is the land of oysters and shrimp by sea and hushpuppies by land. It is impossibly white sand that is soft on the feet, small waves to watch and sunsets that delineate the days. A good place to catch up with the pieces of ourselves that we have dropped along the way.