Saturday, June 12, 2010


And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:20-21, 26

The Pelicans

In the flipbook of images that accompanies my memory, there is one that keeps rising to the forefront in these recent days.....

Sometimes, when the days get too cluttered and time seems too short, I escape all alone to the beach.  To a small island where the rowdy Atlantic crashes right underneath my window, I decamp with a straw bag stuffed with intriguing books and one unsullied notebook.  I subsist on chicken salad and honeydew melon.  I go to bed early by an open window, lulled to deep sleep by the sound of the waves.  In a couple of days, I return home with calm sea breezes blowing through my formerly crowded thoughts.  I am a new woman.
It was on such a trip that I saw them, one February morning, just after dawn.  With my shawl wrapped around me, I had come down to the porch to read in the early morning light.  There was a mist hanging low on the shoreline, a gauzy confection that bewitched the scene into a impressionistic masterpiece.  They entered from out of the fog, a sight grandly prehistoric and one I felt privileged to see.  Seven large pelicans.  Like oracles from another age, they stood together on the sand, staring off over the water, a conclave of wonderment.  They were magnificent and rendered me utterly trivial.


This anamnesis now causes me pain, recurring over and over as it has in the light of the horror unfolding in the waters of the Gulf.  The images of these astonishing creatures now drenched and gasping, covered in oil, is too terrible even to imagine.  But it is happening at this very moment.

When God gave man dominion over the seas, did He realize what we would do with that power?  Did He know it was even possible for us to lose all respect for the Earth and its beauty?  That our selfishness and greed could usurp our desire to care for the creation he entrusted to our hands?

If, like me,  you are grieved over this tragedy and what it means for these grand birds of the sea, I urge you to go to this site and do what you can to help.


Painting by John James Audubon

42 comments:

  1. Dear Pamela, The plight of those magnificent seabirds which you highlight here is almost too terrible to contemplate. Man's stupidity, greed and inhumanity are all too evident in our modern world.

    But, you also paint here a wonderful picture of the cottage by the sea, the sounds of the ocean, the peace and the tranquility. This has to be the other side of the coin and something, in these troubled times, we need to adhere to. In all your postings you achieve a remarkable balance as well as restoring one's faith in all things good.

    Thank you, dear Pamela, for the kind thoughts and words which you left on my recent 'Explanatory Note'. They meant, and mean a great deal to me and are much appreciated.

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  2. Hi Pamela,

    You're right it is too awful to think about for long, everyone is useless and helpless in this awful tragedy.

    I loved the passage about you escaping to your beach house, how wonderful to have a bolt hole like that - those pelicans must have been a sight to see.

    I try to hold on t special images like these, to be used at a later date when 'nourishment' is required!

    Sharon

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  3. I cried today.... for the birds, for the ocean, for us... sometimes, its all one has left to do.... maybe 'cause its a rainy day and the sky is crying, too. Or just because I reached my limit. The beauty, the grief, the everything... I just read a quote earlier - by Churchill, I think... "A kite flies higher against the wind". I guess we're at that moment: we either fly higher, or else.....

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  4. Right in the middle of the seabird reverie you create and lure us into so gently, you bring that hideous gusher surging up into our consciousness. Very well done, Pamela.

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  5. Well done, Pamela, well done, indeed. The lovely setting and the plight of the pelicans' horror all juxtaposed so eloquently in your text.

    Rachel Carson's The Silent Spring keeps coming to mind for me with each news report, each retreat by those responsible for this manmade crisis. Thank you for bringing it to the page so well.

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  6. The scale of the problem is very hard to grasp. It is so depressing, so much devastation which will be felt for generations to come.

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  7. Both a lovely and heartbreaking post.

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  8. Lovely Pamela, I have been watching on the news of the plight of the seabirds, and wince at the poor creatures barely being able to move, and it makes me cry. It is so sad.

    I used to have a place to retreat to, You summend up each and every feeling that I had being free and alone there! Suzie xxx

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  9. There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.
    Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion and Other Essays
    Irish essayist and nationalist (1879 - 1949)

    How true it is and how sad to see it proven, more over. to see the birds and other animals hurt through our actions...
    Thank you for these words, Pamela!

    Much love! Victoria

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  10. Thank you.
    A couple of weeks ago I was sitting on a beach early in the morning on the Atlantic in Miami, when a flock of five pelicans flew low to the water right in front of me.
    I burst into tears for many reasons.
    First for the beauty of it, and second for the heartbreak in the Gulf.
    xo xo

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  11. Its a nightmare isn't it? My stomach churns when I think of man's mindlessness. Your hideaway, even if only a memory, is a wonderful resting place. Seeing it in my mind's eye is comforting.

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  12. Yes, Pamela, it is awful to see the pelicans suffering in such an overpowering slick. You are fortunate to have seen their alternative majesty and be able to remind us of it.

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  13. Oh, dear Pamela...
    I ask myself that too, every day. How can the greed and selfishness of humans know no bounds. Such a tragedy.
    I am certain that the memory of seeing those pelicans come out of the mist, will stay with you for the rest of your life.

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  14. You paint such a lovely peaceful picture Pamela - I relaxed into it and enjoyed the serenity -= then you pull us up short -and remind us of Man's stupidity and greed and the way that terrible oil slick is destroying innocent bird life. Will it ever end?

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  15. Oh Pamela,
    What a terrible tradegy it has been and still is. I remember when the Torrey Canyon went down off of the Cornish coast. That was really devastating but on a much smaller scale.
    Sounds like a wonderful getaway cottage for a bit of R&R and some 'me' time to re-charge your batteries. XXXX

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  16. ..........coming back from Africa where the beautiful birds were free and safe in their natural habitats, then picking up the paper and seeing those pelicans' plight, it made me physically ill and SO VERY ANGRY!! How we are ruining our planet out of greed......this oil thing is an abomination and it just doesn't seem to be getting any better.

    Thank you Pamela for leaving such kind comments about my trip pics etc. What an awesome time I had, the best trip of my entire lifetime. Every moment was exhilarating and wondrous.....I hope so much to return with my granddaughter Jasmin in 2012! I need to win the lottery though so better start buying a ticket!!

    Fondly, Mary
    A Breath of Fresh Air

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  17. Excellent link to the bird rescue site, they need all the help they can get. It will takes months to properly stop the escaping oil and perhaps years to clean up the damage. Particularly touching is how the birds submit to their cleaning, they are so desperate. Also reassuring, how many people are willing to personally tackle the mucky cleanup. Perhaps this disaster will at least result in a generation of highly motivated and skilled naturalists.
    As always, I love your choice of art. This site is a museum of virtual treasures.

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  18. Though we can split an atom and travel great distance in space we cannot stop the gushing of the oil. I mourn for the sea and its creatures great and small as do I mourn the horrors of tidal waves, earthquakes and floods. We are all God's creatures and we cannot escape natural and manmade disaster alike.

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  19. The painting is stunning. It makes the Gulf disaster all the more tragic. And, for all the oil we see, we should remember the "dispersants" (aka chemicals) have sent even more of it too spread unseen by the eye.

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  20. Oh Pamela, first I was transported, gratefully, to your island of calm, such beautiful descriptions as always.

    One cannot be but moved by the images and reports that are coming in on a daily basis from the gulf. My heart breaks. And I close my eyes in shame at the ignorant greed and continued stupidity of my fellow man...

    Thank you for this post.

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  21. Superb writing. So many tragedies that are wider than our own personal preoccupations, yet they impinge. One of the aspects that has got to me at the personal level just recently is the fact that most of us (I imagine) have golden moments such as the one you recount, which fill our sails when we are in the doldrums. But these days, thinking of them, so often seems to bring to mind some tragedy which has since befallen them.

    I am now off to follow your link.

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  22. After reading here, and after listening to Mary Oliver on a podcast yesterday talk about her back yard, and the nature she loves so much, I've been inspired to write about the grief and torment that is happening down there. As things get worse in the world, we have to keep writing about it. This creates beauty from the chaos. And as you show, we can do more as well, to help.

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  23. A sad and compassionate post Pamela, - it is imperative that these words be heard. I watched a program on the last nomadic tribe in Borneo this evening, and it is the same greed and stupidity that is devastating their culture and threatening their very existence. A very sorry world we seem to live in....

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  24. Pamela your message brought tears to my eyes. I had just seen a few days those images of the pelicans drenched in oil. It is abominable, & if that word does not seem strong enough. Thank you for the link to do what we can to assist the rescue of these magnificent creatures, gods creatures. Your love of the ocean permeates our hearts. To soak in all it's majesty is truly an experience like none other.

    x Deb

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  25. I just discovered your poetical and moving blog. Thank you for that! It's utterly despairing to see what happens - but there are people who mind and in the long run we will win against stupidity, thoughtlessness and greed, I hope. Britta

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  26. Pamela, thanks so much for the warm welcome back. I'm gald it directed me straight to your very powerful post...your writing is fantastic, thanks. Love from London x

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  27. Wow..thank you for this wonderful post..But we keep the faith don't we ,because hope is a thing with feathers...

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  28. Pamela, as usual you bring beauty and grace into a chaotic world. This tragedy, well I can’t even bear to look at the pictures. Where animals, birds, fish are concerned my heart lurches. What can we do? I think I need to go back to being a vegetarian. That is one way that we personally can stop the cruelty humans put on animals. That is in our control. I think we must consider what we do in our own backyards. recycle, reuse, plant vegetables, use a tote bag...little things i know, but at least its something. Thanks for your visit and comment. Yes, I play the uke...I love it...check out my “girl group” The Ukettes on Youtube. lots of love, Cynthia

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  29. You've managed to weave calm natural peace with a manmade tragedy - I can't believe how awful the oil spill is. There is a great website (agh,cannot think of the link right now) that allows people to see just how huge the oil spill is if it was in their part of the world and the sheer enormity of the affected area is terrifying. We're given this lovely world in which to live and breathe and yet people can be so unbelievably short-sighted and stupid. Thanks for the thoughts. x

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  30. It is heartbreaking to watch all the devastation. So tragic on so many levels.

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  31. Pamela..it is so so sad to see the devastation of it all. Hard to comprehend as well...

    Your morning stroll along the beach is a touching scene..I am sure you will think of that moment in time for many years to come.

    jeanne :)

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  32. Hi Pamela,

    It is really sad to see the devastation and plight of all the sea life and birds and makes you weep.

    The cottage by the sea, sounds delightful and how lovely that you can get away for a break, and come back a new Woman. thank you for sharing this lovely post.

    Have a happy week
    Carolyn

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  33. oh man...my heart aches...and this is not domion, it is abuse...far from dominion...

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  34. Pamela, your words touch deep, it is such a terrible thing that has happened and so many seem oblivious! It makes my heart weep to think of all the devestation out there.

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  35. Totally beautiful post. You have set a wonderful scene for a film.

    CJ xx

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  36. I've been looking at the thumbnail of your post on my dashboard for a few days and couldn't even bring myself to read your story...that is how sad this situation has made me. I was finally able to write a post today.
    We are thinking along the same lines. I have been writing a post about 'Slow Love' too. Off to read your post now.
    Catherine

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  37. Sometimes when I look at the happenings on our planet, the wars, the greed and desecration of nature, I wish we could turn the clock back so that the whell would never be invented. While man toiled for sis sustenance with simple tools, the earth was in harmony. Now mother Nature is forced to fight back with tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, landslides and the like, just to show that the human race is in no way omnipotent.

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  38. A beautiful post Pamela. I will go visit that site. How long will it be before we all just destroy all the beauty around us? And for what???

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  39. A heartfelt post of beauty and tragedy. I watched the ABC news clip of Jacques Cousteau diving underneath the oil in Gulf: 25 feet deep. Horrifying when one considers all the sea life in the water who will be burned by contact with this oil. Cousteau and the man with him had to have their wet suits rinsed off several times before they could remove them due to toxic exposure to the chemicals in the oil.

    Despite BP's efforts to recap the pipe the damage is done. No amount of new chemicals poured into the oil and water mix will fix the problem. It will only make it worse. People need to approach their state/provincial and federal governments to find ways to prevent this from occurring again.

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  40. Oh oh! I too have been shocked and cried at the sight of these beautiful birds, sitting there, not knowing what's wrong and gazing out of the television screen into my heart!
    It's an terrible consequence of man's incompetence, and as usual the innocent suffer!

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!