The Last Turtle Sunrise

That’s what I’d begun calling them. The mornings I walked a stretch of beach in search of sea turtle flipper tracks hopefully leading to a nest holding around 120 precious eggs. Alas, my walks proved futile for eggs anyway, but awarded my early rousing with some of the most spectacular sunrises I’ve seen over the ocean.

Arise pre-dawn, feed my husky-mix rescue Lily, walk through the dark, quiet neighborhood. Lily cannot accompany me on these walks as the local county government does not permit dogs on beaches from April 1-September 30.

So I begin at the southernmost end of the island at the inlet mouth, just at first light. I walk the high tide mark, around the quiet point to where the breakers begin. There is a bird sanctuary here and June and July greeted me with squawks, screams and shrill cries of parent terns, plovers, gulls, pipers and who knows what other birds warning me not to come too near their nests or wandering babies. And this area is strictly guarded, not just by obstreperous fowl but by the local Audubon and nature conservancy. I continue on my way past softly rolling dunes first sprouting short, stubby beach grasses which gradually grow to graceful sea oats and reeds swaying in the calm sea breeze.

My walk is not long, maybe 3/4 of a mile or a mile to Crystal Pier where the popular restaurant at the base of the pier is dark– a remarkable contrast to its popular nightly crowd regaling the catches of the day and fresh vegetables.

On my way back to my car I allow myself the luxury of walking in the incoming tide, feeling the cool waves wash over my feet, occasionally splashing through sea foam. Skittering pipers quickly digging their beaks into the sand, darting out of harm’s way of the humans.

Our beach had 4 nests this year two of which have “boiled” and the excavations found no remaining baby turtles. The third nest will likely hatch this weekend, the 4th sometime in October.

Of the babies, only a handful of the maybe 120 eggs will swim to a place between here and Bermuda knows as Sargasso Sea for the seaweed there, where they will live for several years eating plankton and small shrimp, jellyfish and other sea creatures until they are old enough to follow the gulf stream.

Swim well little ones!

Advertisements

Hurricanes and random thoughts

There is what NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) is calling a tiny hurricane in the southeast Atlantic. This one’s name is Danny. It formed a few days ago and appears to be headed straight for Puerto Rico, then likely to Haiti, a place that can no more stand a hurricane than the breeze from a passing butterfly’s wings.

So far the national hurricane center claims this storm is no threat to land. Well no, not normal land but Haiti isn’t normal. Their entire infrastructure, what they had of one, crumbled in their 2010 earthquake. Nearly all monies that poured into the country in the aftermath in the way of aid some believe was confiscated by their government and never seen again, thus there is virtually no reconstruction. A few churches persist in taking members there to help patch together what they can but even they are expected to grease the palms of officials upon entry.

So this hurricane. It has already begun weakening and isn’t anywhere near any land. It might not be a problem anywhere anymore. But even mildly flooding rains will wreak havoc on Haiti. And evidently the entire Caribbean has been experiencing pretty serious drought so that much rain does more harm than good coming in very fast, driving rains which won’t soak the soil, just wash it away.

I don’t believe the global warming hype. Oh, I believe our gaseous emissions, polluting by our own thoughtlessness have in no way helped but I also believe in the cycle of things. We aren’t helping as I said but our closing all the coal plants or using corn as fuel rather than oil and gas is simply a trade-off. Consumption always produces by-product, every action produces an equal and opposite reaction.

So do we stop moving, breathing, thinking?

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ ; http://www.britannica.com/event/Haiti-earthquake-of-2010

On point

My rescue dog Lily is incredibly focused. On me mostly, but her new favorite things are chasing toads and lizards, and a certain rodent creature that moves too fast to see enough to tell what it is. It’s small like a mouse but doesn’t have a tail. Its fur is grey and if it has ears they are very tiny. She finds them above ground so they do not appear to be moles which are practically blind. These things seem to see just fine because they skim through high grasses to escape Lily’s sharp eyes and very keen sense of smell.

Her newest favorite thing is the ghost crab.
ghost-crabs-1[1]
(not my photo)

These crabs are semi-hard shell and inedible. So far Lily has not tried to eat one. They are generally unseen during daylight hours using this time to industriously dig their burrows, some with many options for ingress/egress. If you are sunning yourself or reading quietly in a beach chair you will catch a tiny movement in the corner of your eye. If you turn to look at the spot you will see nothing. If you keep looking at a blank area of sand momentarily a pair of eyestalks will slowly emerge, then a bulky little off-white shell. Seconds later if the crab is doing what it normally does at this time a small spray of sand will suddenly be ejected from its claws which it collected from digging.

At dusk they begin to venture forth, picking through the sand for tiny tidbits of food. No idea what that might be. Insects? miniscule remains of sea life? who knows. But they are very fast. Lily first encountered one, cornered it, must have sensed they have claws (large pincers) and subsequently sprang straight up in the air when it raised one. She has amazing night vision because their movement is enough to keep her busy chasing as they skitter in every direction until they safely return to their hole.

So now whenever we are near the beach Lily keeps nose to ground, darting eyes each way in case one should bravely rear its eyestalk.

(photo courtesy of Outer Banks Visitor’s Center website: http://www.outerbanks.com/ghost-crabs.html)

Anchorage

Nope, not about Alaska, though I would really like to go there one day.

I began writing this blog in July 2 years ago. Somehow it does not seem that long and I have made an effort to write at least once every week. I had more ambitious goals at the outset, 2-3 times a week but for someone whose dad used to call her a chatterbox I ran out of things to say. Or at least anything I thought noteworthy.

Writing keeps me grounded. Whether someone is going to read what I write or not who knows? So I ramble uninhibitedly. Sometimes someone makes a comment, sometimes a few people. More often than not I write in a vacuum but it’s my vacuum so at least I know what is going on.

Writing was a chore when I was in school. I disliked assignments where I had to write anything down but felt great relief at the accomplishment once finished. College was worse. Unlike my mother who claimed to write her papers upon receipt of each syllabus (how? did she read everything in one week?) and put them away in a drawer till they were due, I sweated those assignments till the last night. Sometimes even wrote them without having completely read whatever the paper was on. I must have been incredibly creative because I usually received fair to pretty good marks. But I suffered the loss of not having challenged my brain to do the work.

So this blog. It isn’t based on reading assignments but it is a reflection of my assignment to live each day, encounter each person, overcome every obstacle as gracefully as I can. And sometimes if I have any insight at all, to write about it. It anchors me at a point in time that carries with me.

When I first started this I once wrote about family vacations. How the whole point was to leave anxieties someplace else, to enjoy people, the place, time away. In the moment. I am leaving this afternoon for a week at the beach with my family- my brother, his wife, daughter, and my son and his girlfriend.

We aren’t perfect, we don’t see everything the same. But I hope this week is one where we will look at it at some point in the future and remember it with warmth, and be glad that we shared this time.

Wheels

So the weather here is like any beach town in summer. Hot. But this kind of hot at times I have no words for. 85 degrees at 5 in the morning is not normal, I don’t care how close to the equator you are. 110 is a number I only think of in terms of what I weighed in the ninth grade. Lily, my husky-mix rescue dog does not tolerate this weather. I don’t either, much.

Lily formerly enjoyed early morning runs/walks on a shady greenway, about 5 miles of a morning no matter what time of year. Since we can’t do that here she goes about half that distance, both walks of the day combined. Me, I need to move a bit more so I unearthed a bicycle I bought once upon a time when I lived in the land of Florida. This bike has no frills. It has 2 wheels, a seat, chain, pedals, handlebars and foot brakes. That’s it. No bells, whistles, gears, lights, nothing that I can’t fix (I hope). It’s more work but the trade off is better with lower maintenance. My kind of life.

So I ride up to a park a couple of miles from my house where Lily and I often walk, praying at the blind curves, staying as far over by the curbing as possible. The distance around the pond at this park I am told is about 1-1/4 miles. I try for at least 3 times around, sometimes more, occasionally less but if I go 3 I know I’ve done between 5-10 miles round trip.

No helmet. Sometimes a hat.

Interesting what you notice when you are not in a car. The butterflies that whiz by, over, around me. The occasional snake that pops its head up periscope-like to see if the coast is clear only to duck back into the tall grass, seeing me bearing down. If an osprey flies over I can stop to watch it until it is out of sight. A lizard skittering by the pathway.

And always that lovely breeze created by pedal propulsion.