Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oh Black Water

My sister-in-law and I were talking about 24-hour news channels. Specifically how they just make people feel Bad.

All that nonstop hearing about problems or situations you can't control... it makes viewers feel helpless and ultimately depressed, we agreed.

Later, I was thinking how after a while it also makes people (like me) stop watching altogether, and serious situations go ignored.

With that in mind... I got a call from my brother in Key West Saturday. The tar balls from the (still going) oil spill had arrived, and he was distraught.

TGT: The coral reef! The mangroves! The whales--they're filter-feeders... 200,000 gallons of oil a day! For five weeks! Do you realize what this means? Do you realize the level of destruction?
LTM: (quietly) I realize. (internally) Welcome to the party.

I took the girls to Pensacola Beach that first Saturday after the explosion. We hopped over the state line and in 30 minutes were passing the big neon fish welcoming us to the "world's whitest beaches." I got a little misty wondering how much longer that'd be true.

It wasn't the best day for playing in the Gulf. The winds were high and the double red flags were out. Still the girls ran in and out of the surf for a good hour or so before a lifeguard came over and squatted beside me.

He'd been watching us all morning, and he was very apologetic for being about to kick them out of the water. He explained that they'd already had two rescues that day and his boss had just called and said to get everybody out.

I smiled and said I understood. The breakers really were too rough for them to be playing in, and it looked like it might start raining any second. Then for a moment we watched my little ladies laughing and squealing and riding their tubes on the surfable waves.

I think we were both thinking the same thing. The clock is ticking. And if what the experts are saying actually happens, they could be tweens before the water's safe enough for them to do it again. If ever.

Richard and I drove to P'cola a few times the summer after Hurricane Ivan hit. It was scary to see the miles of open white sands where once stood massive condos or little villages of rental houses.

But even after that disaster, you could still park the car and get out and those glimmering white sands and turquoise waters told you it was going to be OK. Nobody could stay away from this for too long.

Those blue waters gave us hope. They were a beautiful gift we all shared.

Now it's in jeopardy. And we all feel so helpless.

Bottlenose dolphins are another happy fixture along our coast. They can be seen playing a few yards from the shoreline on any given day.

One June I was holding six month-old Laura in the Gulf off Pensacola Beach. The water was a glassy pool, and as we bobbed along, a spout surfaced less than five yards from us.

LTM: I know dolphins are the "dogs of the sea," but I'll just be getting out now...

The paper last week showed an aerial shot of the waters near Destin. In them you could see a flock of rays and you could even count seven manatees all swimming west on their usual migratory route. The cutline read, "Swimming into danger." My heart broke.

The Gulf might be our gift, but it's their home.

There's a Facebook page listing ways you can help with the Oil Spill. Here's the link.  There's also a local blog for kids and teachers here. (It was created by a teacher at the Fairhope K-1 center.)

Since the disaster, locals have been stepping up (like they always do) ready to fight this thing and save our gift and the animals that live there. They make me so proud.

I hope viewers don't tune out. I hope if anything they'll think about what's happened and what it means going forward. The next time they hear someone carelessly chant, "Drill, baby, drill."


A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

I must say it is great for you to post links for others to help out. Refreshing. We should always help out where and when we can. Seeking resources anywhere can be dangerous and Accidents happen. We should do everything we can to prevent accidents. I will also say it is my personal opinion that just because there are accidents does not mean we should stop drilling indefinitely--we should although be cautious. WE SHOULD RESPECT THE OCEAN THOUGH AND DO EVERYTHING TO PREVENT SPILLS. Again this is my personal opinion. Thanks for the post, it is lovely! Gosh I miss the ocean!

LTM said...

I was hesitant about this post--it is not intended to be political, and I agree, accidents happen. I understand the opposition to offshore drilling better now, though. The cost is too high--especially in view of our ability to clean up our mess. (And the availability of onshore options.)
Positive news--the "top kill" seems to be working:,0,5782115.story said...

Thanks for the post. I think our new motto should be " PRAY, BABY PRAY ". We need to remember how grieved God is when we destroy His creation. It was His gift to us and look what we have done to it. We should have listened and not been so greedy.

LTM said...

Stewardship was huge when I was a kid, and then we all traded that in for an SUV... ;p Hopefully it's coming back around. I'm happy to see in this area it never left. But this is sort of the front lines~

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

I felt you did not intend for it to be political. It is still fun to share views. So I added my two cents. Glad you didn't mind.

LTM said...

Right on, APD! As my dad (a retired 30-year Exxon employee) said, this is a touchy subject... I just wanted to let people know about the links. And the feelings of (some) locals. To me that's always an interesting part of the story~ :o)

Anonymous said...

LTM, this article made me cry. I thought you did a beautiful job describing many of our own experiences here on the Gulf, and how we feel about losing such a gift. Keep up the good writing, I'll be reading!

LTM said...

Mom? j/k--thanks, Anon, you bet. Sorry for the tears, we're all close these days.
My moment came when they recovered the dead sea turtles. I've interviewed several of the folks who work w/AL Sea Turtle Conservation, and I know how passionate they are about their work. I'm sure that was a dark day for them. :o|

Ex-pat Odessa said...

This is v. sad. I have friends who live down in Buras and Venice, they are mad because not enough is being done. This is just sad, sad, sad.

Drilling for oil is perilous, regardless, and obviously an engineer somewhere screwed up.

Geologists have found HUGE pockets of oil in the Dakotas and Montana. I don't think drilling should stop all together, but I do think they should get the lead out finding a way to make automobiles that run on trash, remember "Doc's" renovation to the Time Machine in Back to The Future???

HELLO - Hollywood did it, make it reality! We kill two birds with one stone - no more oil, and less trash!