Archive for August 2014
Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
During the week I normally launch for my daily paddle from Cedar Ave Park in Kelowna, B.C. Canada where I live. I usually paddle to the mouth of Mission Creek and back. Over my years of paddling there, I have been fortunate to witness Nature like very few people. I have come to know the Osprey that return here year after year, Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, American White Pelicans, Geese, Loons, assorted Ducks, Swallows, Muskrats, even humans, at least the ones that are up and about at 5:30 in the morning!
Along this route, someone put up a pole with a base on it so that the Osprey could nest. Every year a mating pair returns to build a nest, then have and rear their offspring. This year there were two youngsters, and I checked the family out almost every day. I was there the day they were born, and watched their progress all summer. It never ceases to amaze me how hard Mom and Dad work on behalf of their young ones. Mom stays in the nest almost all summer, and Dad is charged with providing food. I would see Dad fishing every day, soaring high and low until he spotted a fish, then hovering and diving to catch his prey. He missed occasionally, very occasionally, and he never stopped until he caught something. I cannot count the number of times I saw him labor back to the nest with a fish that was clearly a handful for him.
When the young ones are old enough, Mom and Dad disappear. This happened about a week ago, and I pay extra attention when this happens. The now young adults often hang around the nest for a day or two until they figure out that there is no more food coming. Usually when they figure that out, it’s not too long before they mosey up to the edge of the nest, stretch their wings and take flight. After two days the first of the young ones was out of the nest when I paddled by, and in what can only be called a display of pride, he flew by me, circled, then flew straight at me, just a few feet directly over my head. Then he circled again and flew back to the nest to check in on his sibling who had not taken that all important first step yet.
It had been nearly a week since Mom and Dad left, and still the last Osprey had not taken to the air. I stopped by every day, and in my own way encouraged this little one to fly. Her Brother also came back every morning, and he screeched encouragement to her every time. Her reluctance to fly had me baffled, Ospreys were born to fly! She was clearly terrified, I saw her approach the edge numerous times, and every time she retreated to the safety of the nest, screeching like she knew there was something she was supposed to do. I figure she had to be hungry, and I also wondered at what point she would become too weak to fulfill her destiny. My concern grew daily, and so did her Brothers’, I caught him sneaking food to his Sister on occasion.
When I paddled by this morning she was in the nest by herself, and my heart sunk. Even with her Brother’s help, she had to be getting weaker by the day. I stood quietly on my board under her nest, as I had done many mornings before. We had developed this little head bobble between us that she would do, and then I would do. This morning she was a bit more animated than usual, and she screeched at me a few times as well. Then she stretched her wings, which calmed my fears that maybe she was injured. Then she wandered over to the edge of the nest, and cast a look back at me. I will never forget what happened next, she took off! She flew a small circle around me, and then returned to the nest, I could palpably feel how proud she was of her accomplishment. Her Brother was clearly proud too, he flew out of the trees to join her. She chattered at me for a couple of minutes, and then she took off again. She gave me a personal air show that is forever etched in my heart and my brain. Soaring, circling, diving, skimming, all right in front of me! Born to fly indeed!
Fly or die. That’s quite a choice, and I wonder if the young Ospreys were aware of their choice? Watching their experiences got me thinking about our human existence. What are we born to do? How many of us will step out of our comfort zones and fulfill our destinies? Are we truly aware when we are clinging to the nest? Are we “Born to Fly”?…
Tofino, British Columbia. September 13, 2014. Join us wherever you are at noon and paddle for the planet! Together we will send a wave of change across the globe!
The Paddler’s Planet by Christian Wagley
It was a temperate mid-summer night and a promised “supermoon” that brought a friend and me out to a favorite spot on Pensacola Bay. As the calm and beauty of the evening took over and we relaxed into the moment, the real story of my local bay was absent in the same way it is for thousands of waterways across the country. Yet these hidden stories must be told if we are to restore and protect the places we love.
From high on a bluff overlooking Pensacola Bay, an August “supermoon” rises boldly above the horizon. A few lights from docks and homes twinkle on the far shoreline; farther in the distance on Santa Rosa Island are the concrete and steel towers that house thousands of tourists on their beach vacations. Along the National Seashore there is dense forest and darkness.
The bay waters are calm and quiet, with not a boat in-sight. The peaceful immediate surroundings make the bay itself seem much like it would have looked in 1559, when the Spanish explorer Tristan de Luna sailed his ships into the Bay to escape a hurricane that eventually took them all to the bottom.
For all its beauty, it is a superficial look, and that is the only type that most of us ever get. We gaze out from above and celebrate the view.
Few of us stick our heads below water, or wade the shallows, or pull nets along the shore to see what we can catch. Most of the old fishermen who saw the bounty of the Bay in its earlier days have passed-on with time. Today just a handful of scientists look deeper, testing water and sediment samples, looking at plankton under a microscope, or inventorying the larval insects living beneath decaying leaves in a stream.
Those few who look deeper, or who saw the Bay in its time of great biological wealth, know the real story. They know that despite the idyllic view from above, that my local bay, and thousands like it, are very sick.
Water is a fluid and dynamic medium that closely reflects the world around it. As it absorbs all that touches air and land, the falling rain, the groundwater that flows beneath our feet, and all the streams, lakes, rivers, bays, and oceans tell the full story.
When communities are healthy, the waters around them are usually healthy. For Pensacola Bay, with a legacy of heavy industry, untreated runoff from city streets, and thousands of miles of dirt roads that wash away with every rain, the conditions are not good.
The most prominent indicator of all are seagrasses, the submerged vegetation of shallow waters that are gone from 95 percent of their former range in the Bay. The near-complete absence of seagrasses and loss of their vital function as a fish nursery tells us that Pensacola Bay is very, very sick.
Yet since most residents don’t look close enough to notice whether seagrasses are present, or never saw the Bay in its former days of bounty, they don’t notice anything amiss. For most, the Bay continues to look nice from above, just as it did on that recent night of the “supermoon”. Or they are distracted by more tangible assaults such as litter, which is actually quite trivial compared to the major causes of decline in our nation’s waters.
If we are to save our waterways, we must make visible what today is invisible to most. We must tell the stories of how prolific and healthy our local rivers and bays once were, and work with scientists to make the current conditions more tangible to those who happily gaze upon our waters. We must use the limitless energy and creativity of the human spirit to bring light to that which hides in darkness beneath the surface of the waters we love.
Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
A young man stands outside under the night sky and scans for stars as he has done every night of his young life. He is 12 years old, it is a cloudless night, and like every night of his life he cannot find one star. He lives in China, his city under a blanket of smog so thick that no light can penetrate to reach his gaze.
A woman in the north of Canada just got the news that she has cancer. She has watched the quality of her surroundings steadily deteriorate over the past 10 years. She has caught fish from the river that runs near her home that have visible cancerous tumours, and she no longer eats fish. The gas plant up the street assures her their tailing ponds are safe, and there is no need for concern. She starts chemo treatments tomorrow.
A newborn Laysan Albatross eagerly accepts the food his parents give him. His parents have flown many miles to gather food for their offspring, and are not able to distinguish real food from the copious quantities of plastic that roam the Oceans. Cigarette lighters, plastic medicine bottles, small plastic toys, even toothbrushes are enthusiastically gobbled down as if they were real food. Unfortunately, they are not real food, and the newborn will die before he even has a chance to fly.
A Shark is going about his day when he finds himself caught by a fisherman. He is hauled onto the back of a boat where the fishermen cut off his fins. After they are finished, the fishermen throw him back into the Ocean, still alive, to carry on his new life without fins. The Shark dies shortly afterwards, about the same time his fins are being served up in a bowl of soup.
The rumbling of the machines could be heard from quite a distance. In a very short time, what was once a thriving jungle is leveled, and the debris cleared to make way for a new crop. The Orangutan found themselves homeless for the first time in their lives, and where they once could readily find food, now found themselves starving. Once the new crops grew the Orangutan thought their food problems were over. They thought wrong, the farmers shot them one by one as a nuisance animal that cut into their profits. You can hear the shots every time you buy a product with palm oil in it.
The process we use to extract these resources is perfectly safe, we have no concerns say the corporations. How many oil spills, levelled forests, polluted waterways, chemically treated food, etc. etc. do we need to see before we stop believing the lies. How many rivers and streams need to be drained before we recognize that bottled water might not be in our own best interests? How long before we recognize that corporations exist for one purpose only, to make money. We (the corporations) have no concerns (for the environment), our processes are perfectly safe (for us to make money). Yes, we have no concerns.
Johnny is in Grade 4 and Sally Grade 7. Watching them walk to school is like watching a funeral procession. Heads down, no expression on their faces, stooped under the weight of a back pack overfilled with books about topics of no interest whatsoever to a 10 year old and a 13 year old. Locked in a school and chained to a desk for what seems like an eternity five days a week, 10 months a year, they know full well what prison feels like before they get out of elementary school.
Mom and Dad have four jobs between them, and they are barely making ends meet. They have a nice house, two cars, and race from activity to activity to keep the dream alive. They keep in touch with their kids by text. They chat with their friends on facebook. There is no time to cook or share a meal or play, and in no time, in a World of no time, time goes by and another family of strangers is born.
We humans have a lot we could change in this World, what on Earth is taking us so long?…
Join us where ever you on are September 13, 2014 at noon for World Paddle For The Planet. The main event will be held in Tofino, British Columbia. One person is the difference. Stand Up and be that person!
Soulful Uplifting People by Leslie Kolovich
My observation about my anxiety and nerves while painting Plein air the other day~
I am very fortunate to have a professional artist as my best friend, Joan Vienot. She affords me the opportunity in her studio and as a teacher to experience and express myself through art. I consider her a master at Plein air art. I have enjoyed watching her paint, but lately she has been pushing me to stop watching and put a paint brush to the canvas along side her! Okay, not pushing me encouraging me as she is very good at building my confidence. She’s always telling me I’m a natural. But is feeling like I’m going to hurl while setting up to paint a natural feeling?
We arrived at the majestic Eden Gardens State Park when the morning dew was still on the lawn and the Florida August humidity hadn’t hit it’s peak heaviness. There was actually a nice cooler breeze than I expected. The giant oak trees canvasing our path literally took my breath away as we walked the grounds of this historic property. This is a Plein air artist haven with so many options to express form, shapes and color!
I felt my stomach starting to get tight and roll as we narrowed down our sites to paint. Just looking at the paints, the brushes, and the blank canvas was almost too much. I recognized these feelings from my past. Nerves and anxiety like I use to get before I would step out on the volleyball court at the University of Utah way back in 1984. I would get so nervous before a match that I felt like I had to tell the coach that I couldn’t play. There was a crowd there to watch me play. They could and would judge every move I made on the court, and then write about it in our local newspaper, the good the bad and the ugly, and in the last year’s of my time there it truly was a struggle for a win. Thoughts would race through my head like, would I perform well enough, did I deserve to wear the uniform, could I make a difference for the team? However, as soon as the National anthem was played it was game on! All I then had to do was step on the court and my natural instincts and abilities would take over. Certainly I did make mistakes that’s part of the game, but in the same notion I made more positive moves than not. I never was cut from the team, I continued to step on the court, and along the way I set a few records, and was named All Conference player my senior year despite my extreme nervousness and anxiety that wanted to take me out.
How does this relate to art? Good question.
So I ask myself, why was I having these feelings in such a wonderful place of peace on art day in Eden State Gardens? No one was there judging my performance . It’s just a canvas and tubes of paint and brushes. It’s not like I was commissioned to paint for the Queen of England for crying in the night! I told Joan I didn’t want to paint I was too nervous and anxious. Joan calmly said the most profound words to me, “change your words Leslie, it’s not nervousness it’s excitement”. Wow! Change my words? This makes so much sense to me. Why not embrace that energy that is rolling in my stomach and express it with vigor? I told myself, just get some paint on your brush and start! Amazing!
It truly is time to change the words that come from our mouths.
I like the word excitement. I can feel it, I can believe in it. I know I can step on the court in any arena in my life and do something that someone will appreciate, but most importantly do something that feels right for me. It’s always a masterpiece, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Just showing up, being present, allowing the natural flow of soul instinct to happen really creates a wonderful picture!
Thank you Joan Vienot for being such an inspirational example for me! Check out Joan’s art blog on her website and you can see not only is she a master painter, but a very good writer as well. www.Joanvienot.com
Thank you also to the Emerald Coast Plein air group for kindly bringing me into their world.
~Go forward with excitement. You are enough.~ Peace and Love, Leslie
Standing up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
Nothing is ever a problem until it’s a problem!…
It was an accident. He decided to take his motorcycle for a spin on a sunny, hot summer day. He had to wear the helmet, its law, just for today though he decided to leave the armoured jacket and boots at home because it was so hot, and replaced them with t-shirt, shorts and flip flops. Not a problem, he is a careful rider. He didn’t see the sand at the exit of the turn, and knew he had made a mistake as soon as he hit it, not the first mistake that day. Fortunately he was not speeding, at least not excessively. Unfortunately, the lowside crash dragged him a good ways on the pavement, and sent him to the hospital with multiple injuries including serious road rash. He was fortunate, even though it was a long road to recovery. His girlfriend in the tank top, shorts and flip flops was not so fortunate, she died in the hospital from her injuries. Nothing is ever a problem until you decide to cut corners.
*#it happens. I was scheduled to be at a distance race in Whiterock today, instead I am sitting in a coffee shop writing this weeks “Standing up for the Planet”. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control, and this is one of those times. Or was it? I noticed on our drive from Kelowna to Whiterock that the van was running a bit hot, I keep an eye on oil pressure and water temps as a regular force of habit. The needle would climb, then go back down, something to keep an eye on, nothing to be too concerned about as long as the hot cycles didn’t get into the red zone. The day was really hot, so I chalked it up to the heat. On one of our stops, Sharon noticed a bit of fluid at the front of the van, and it was hard to tell if it was coming from the van, so we pressed on and I kept a closer eye on the temperature gauge. By the time we got to Whiterock I was pretty sure we had an issue, the gauge ran hotter than I’ve ever seen it. I thought about stopping at a garage for a checkup, and decided to ignore that impulse, I was anxious to get to the race dinner. There was a puddle on the ground again when we went to drive to our hotel, and I knew we had a problem. I went and bought some antifreeze and the plan was to top off the radiator in the morning after the engine cooled down overnight. In the morning I discovered that there was a hole in the bottom rad hose, not good for keeping an engine cool on a hot summer day. On a Sunday. On a long weekend. Panic set in, my race was due to start in a couple of hours, and I figured out pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be in it. I shifted gears and looked for a place to get the van fixed, no small chore given the timing. Long story short, with the help of some awesome people, the van got fixed, and I made it to the short course race to boot! We were fortunate in this situation, this time. The result could have been a lot different and worse, the rad hose could have blown on the road in the middle of nowhere. What if I wasn’t in the habit of watching my gauges, and blew an entire engine. Lots of could haves. I went over the whole situation about a hundred times to see if there was something more I could have done to prevent it from happening. The van gets regular maintenance, and I chalked this one up to fate, not much I could have done about it. Still, nothing is ever a problem until it’s a problem, definitely changed our weekend! Nothing is ever a problem until it’s a problem.
Everybody does it. Everybody cheats on their taxes, a questionable write-off here, hiding a bit of income there, not a problem. Nothing is ever a problem until an audit. I’ve only had a couple of drinks, I’m ok to drive, not a problem until arrested for DUI, or worse causing an accident. Nothing is ever a problem until an accident that kills someone. I don’t pay attention to politics, it’s boring, and what can I do about anything anyways, not a problem until you realize your decision makers are in bed with the corporations, and making bad decisions. Nothing is ever a problem until the rules of the game change and your hard earned money gets misspent. I can afford it, I’ll just get a loan, or put it on my credit card, not a problem, I’ve done it before. Nothing is ever a problem until the bill collectors’ call. The building site was in a prime valley, not a problem unless that valley is also a flood plain. Nothing is ever a problem until a flood. Even when everybody does it, nothing is ever a problem until it’s a problem.
Climate change is not a problem until you can’t breathe the air. Pollution is not a problem until you can’t drink the water. Hunger is not a problem until the Land won’t grow anything. Problems don’t recognize borders or our futile attempts to avoid them. Problems are global in scope in todays’ World, actions we take in our own neighborhoods have a global impact. Deforestation is not a problem. Shark Finning is not a problem. Resource extraction is not a problem. Garbage is not a problem. Or Ocean acidification. Or over fishing. Or building dams. Or greed. Etc. etc. etc.
Are WE going to wait until disaster hits from every angle and WE are forced to react to the crazy situations WE have created? WE are still in a window where WE can proactively head off problems before our options are taken away from us. If WE wait much longer to “Change the Way WE live on the Planet” WE face the possibility of having those options taken away from us.
Nothing is ever a problem until it’s a problem!…