Archive for May, 2024

May 26 2024

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Intertidal Fecundity

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Once again Judy and I rented a cottage on the Maine Coast for a week, and once again I couldn’t resist the urge to walk to a small, rocky island just off Goose Rocks Beach. For days I watched a spit of the sandy beach reach towards the island at low tide, but it didn’t seem to connect. Then it did, although very briefly. So the next morning early, I timed my walk so that I’d reach the narrowing channel between beach and island right when the tide was lowest. It worked. I stepped onto the island without getting my feet wet.

The sun, just above the northeastern horizon, shined brilliantly through the cloudless sky. No breeze stirred the still waters, and temps rose quickly through the 50s and into the 60s. The beginning yet another beautiful day. I felt lucky to be alive and kicking. I ventured onto the island’s rock-strewn, uneven ground, careful as to where I stepped… all the time looking downward…

That’s when I realized that I could hardly step anywhere without stepping on some kind of life-form: periwinkles, barnacles, clams and more. These rocks, underwater during most of any given day, are covered with marine animals. I have witnessed this many times before, but can’t get used to this intertidal fecundity. I knelt down and turned over one rock after another. Beneath every rock, tiny hard-shelled aquatic animals moved about, along with translucent creatures barely visible to the naked eye. Had I remembered to bring my hand lens, I would have seen much more, I’m sure.

When I went to pick up and look under one rock, it started moving. That took me by surprise. It was a crab doing its best to look like a rock, now that it was exposed. Fortunately, I came upon it before any of the nearby shorebirds did.

Gulls, godwits, and other shorebirds were busy feeding in the shallow waters nearby, just off the island. No doubt they were finding plenty to eat. I was pretty hungry myself, so I hiked back to the cottage to consume a bowl of granola cereal. Yeah, we all have to eat. Gotta keep those inner fires stoked. Life forms come into being, eat as they mature, reproduce and die. It’s the eternal cycle of life. And nowhere is this more obvious than on a shoreline at low tide.

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May 13 2024

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Leaf Out

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Suddenly there is the faintest hint of green in the trees. Then it unfolds slowly, very so slowly – the vibrant canopy overhead. Each day just a little greener, brighter, full of life. An awakening after a long dark winter. Nothing short of a miracle, played out over and over, year after year.

I follow a path through the woods, constantly reminding myself to watch where I’m stepping, but my eyes keep drifting up towards vernal glory. Dark clouds beyond the trees threaten rain, which is a good thing. All these rooted life forms will get yet another good drink soon and become even greener.

Not just green but the mesmerizing hue of fresh verdure unlike anything else we see the rest of the year. It only lasts a few days before the forest takes on that deeper, richer color. The forest refreshed. The color of joy. The triumph of the organic over the inorganic.

This is the eternal promise of Nature – life springing back into action after months-long dormancy. This is an irresistible force in a largely inanimate universe. This time of year, the trees shout what stone-cold materialists deny: that there is something incredible happening here on planet Earth and most likely elsewhere in the cosmos.

Life is self-perpetuating in a way that doesn’t make thermodynamic sense. It sucks energy out of the Sun. It grows; it self-organizes; it reproduces. It flaunts its leafy self despite quantum interactions, supernovas, and black holes. Or maybe because of them. Then we and the other creatures come along, adding further mystery to What-Is. And it’s all happening right here, right now, right before our eyes.

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