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Sunday, January 27, 2013

A day at the beach



The gulf coast beach is a ever changing ecosystem. The dunes have snakes, varmints and cats, the cats appear to be well suited to beach life and help control the varmints, watching one of the cats hunt can be an all day activity. The cat’s patience is inspiring. It can sit, coiled for a strike, motionless, focused, and almost invisible in the dune’s vegetation. I can almost feel sorry for the field mouse or snake, until I remember the last time mice moved into my house. I had to hunt them down and that is why I find the cat inspiring, I do not have that level of patience or cunning. The mice consistently used better tactical moves than I could counter, in the end I captured the cat and put it in my house, all varmints vacated the premises within 24 hours, and then I rewarded the cat with a great, hot meal and released it back to the wild.
Sitting on the beach house deck and experiencing the surrounding environment is a lazy existence, something that suits me well. The birds and cats and varmints are active and swift, the dunes and gulf water and vegetation are quiescent and sleepy. Everything is in motion, at greatly different speeds, nothing moves in a straight line, nature hates straight lines. The beach is constantly seeking a balance, the water currents pushes sand creating a new sand bar, which changes the current and pushes the sand a new direction, the wind imitates the same action, everything is moving, the balance never balances and nature never stops.
I can’t decide what to watch, any direction I look there is something that can hold my attention. Every moment can be a special moment, at one special moment each day the sun will reflect off the water such that the water sparkles with bright star like flashes out to the horizon, at another moment a pelican flock will cruise the water hunting fish schools, then another moment with sand swirling into miniature tornadoes, and so it goes, all day, all night. I can watch and I can think about what I am seeing, a very satisfactory existence.
Seeing the damage we collectively do to this wonderland is sad, we could be so much kinder to the world we occupy, we could lessen the damage we cause with little effort. The short term chase of profit is weak thinking; a greater profit could be realized with longer term balanced thinking. There is a large body of peer reviewed studies supporting this wisdom, anyone walking the beach sees the problem and understands the solutions. All this shows the imperfection of human organization, our fights to maintain a power elite with the only objective to maintain the power elite, a circular argument with no exit point, a purely human endeavor unmatched by any other natural creation.
I am not dreaming of becoming some native living in the wild. I enjoy AC, I like hot food, and I like watching a gulf storm from a sheltered porch. I do clean up after myself, I remove trash I find from the beach, I use the municipal waste water system and I volunteer to monitor turtle nesting. My individual efforts are not enough, we must have collective action to make a real difference, as a society we have to make the choice and we have to make the effort.
Americans demand our freedom. In this case it is the freedom to trash nature, the freedom to shoot hawks, the freedom to crash four-wheelers through sand dunes, the freedom to not pay for what we take from nature. We use freedom to justify selfish behavior. We define freedom to take what we wish.
In the end nature doesn’t care how we define freedom; nature cares no more about humans than nature cared about dinosaurs. Nature will leave the decisions to us.
Humans are the most creative, adaptable and intelligent animal ever produced on earth, for all our flaws a few will survive and continue, for this reason I have hope.

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