Restoring the seeds

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Let’s talk about companies or organizations who promote healthy environments or stewardship programs related to our forestry services. The parks system is one that is near and dear to my heart.  Some organizations actually do try to help, while others fall short of the goal of restoring the environment, and emphasize instead outward verbiage or lip service to the practice, maintenance, and/ or restoration of our environment. The goal should be education, i.e., raising awareness or appreciation for the outdoors, park systems, and the various environmental issues we all face.

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In previous blog posts, I have mentioned the pollution that is affecting our fragile eco-system, including our marine and wildlife; we could also consider the impact of said pollution on climate change, erosion, illegal tree cutting, and / or such topics as oil, gas, chemical, and toxic contamination not just to our waterways, but on land.  Toxic spills ranging from trains derailing, super tankers leaking or just plain old sinking, and or radiation disasters, all affect the human population. These all contribute to the destruction of an already-fragile eco-system. Our planet is in trouble, blog readers, which affects every aspect of Mother Nature – including my beloved parks systems.  The following are only a few examples that have impacted our eco-system, purely from oil spills: Exxon Valdez, Tricolor, Torrey Canyon, Sea Star, Odyssey, M/T Haven Tanker, ABT Summer, Amoco Cadiz, Castillo de Bellver, Nowruz Oil Field, Kolva River, Atlantic Empress Oil, Ixtoc 1, Gulf Oil, and the current Arabian Gulf/Kuwait Oil crises.  Each of the above (and countless others not mentioned) spews hazardous waste, i.e., any liquid or solid excess that is considered contaminated. Even more important, this waste is damaging to the health of a human, mammal, or any form of wildlife exposed to it – either through inhalation, ingestion or touch.  When I see companies or organizations making millions of dollars and providing lip service to environmental protection when in reality the opposite occurs, well, that bothers me.  This is a topic I will more than likely revisit in an upcoming post, specifically in reference to how some companies have created policies and procedures which appear, on paper, to be effective, when in reality, those policies are only a façade (i.e., companies which claim to advocate for the environment, when, in fact, they are destroying the environment through new construction).

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After all, we all live on the same planet, so once this planet is depleted of all its resources, then I suppose we should just hope that something will materialize in a positive manner (and avoid creating a world similar to that of Fahrenheit 451, for example).  After all, unless I am mistaken, I do not think our planet has the capability of spontaneous regeneration.  For those of you who have read my previous blog posts, you will know by now that I am a fan of the power of the ordinary person; perhaps if more than one “ordinary” person gets involved, organizations will be motivated to do their part. After all, one cannot help the ozone or the air quality and or eat the fruits or apples from the trees if one does not actually plant the seeds.

Here are just a few events that have contributed to the environmental issues we face today:

  • Top one’s for me: Illegal Tree Deforestation & Water Pollution
  • Bhopal: the Union Carbide gas leak
  • Acerinox accident
  • Seveso: Italian dioxin crisis
  • Ajka alumina plant accident
  • Goiânia accident
  • Gold mine at Kingston, Queensland
  • Lake Karachay
  • Love Canal
  • Mapua contaminated site
  • Mayapuri
  • Radioactive waste dumping by the ‘Ndrangheta
  • Seveso disaster
  • Sydney Tar Ponds
  • Techa River
  • Times Beach, Missouri
  • Tonoshō, Kagawa
  • Valley of the Drums
  • Wittenoom, Western Australia
  • Kantubek, Uzbekistan
  • Picher, Oklahoma
  • Milligan, Florida: Train derailment
  • Brio Toxic Neighborhood, Texas
  • Baia Mare Aurul gold mine
  • Apache Zama Pipeline Spill
  • New Idria, California
  • Centralia, Pennsylvania (also the topic of a horror movie)
  • Pripyat, Ukraine (Also the topic of several films; we would know this as Chernobyl.
  • Last but not least and without a doubt scary: Fukushima

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Hey why stop there let’s continue for fun shall we: I do enjoy learning about our history.

(Retrieved from Netherlands company Lenntech, 2016)

  • – 1968 Witwater tanker spills 14,000 barrels of oil near Panama coast
  • – 1969 tanker Hamilton trader spills 4,000 barrels of oil in Liverpool Bay, England
  • – 1970 tanker Arrow spills 77,000 barrels of oil near Nova Scotia, Canada
  • – 1971 tanker Wafra spills 20,000 barrels of oil near Cape Agulhas, Africa
  • – 1974 Dutch tanker Metulla spills 53,000 ton crude oil near South-Chilli
  • – 1976 Liberian tanker Argo Merchant spilled 29,000 square meters of oil near the Massachusetts coast
  • – 1976 Spanish tanker Urquillo spills more than 100,000 tons of oil near Spain
  • – 1977 tanker Al Rawdatain spills 7,350 barrels of oil near Genoa, Italy
  • – 1977 tanker Borug spills 213,692 barrels of oil near the coast of Taiwan
  • – 1978 Brazilian Marina spills 73,600 barrels of oil near Sao Sebastiao, Brazil
  • – 1979 Betegeuse spills 14,720 barrels of oil near Bantry Bay, Ireland
  • – 1979 Ixtoc I exploratory well in Mexico blows out and spills 600,000 tons of oil
  • – 1984 Alvenus tanker grounds southeast of Cameron, Louisiana and spills 65,000 barrels of oil
  • – 1985 ARCO Anchorage spills 5,690 barrels of oil near the coast of Washington
  • – 1986 unknown oil spill reaches the coast of Georgia and is later appointed to the Amazon Vulture tanker
  • – 1989 Aragon tanker spills 175,000 barrels of oil near Madeira, Portugal
  • – 1990 tanker American Trader grounds near Huntington Beach, California and spills 9,458 barrels of oil
  • – 1990 Cibro Savannah tanker catches fire and spills 481 square meters of oil
  • – 1990 Jupiter tanker catches fire in Bay City, Mexico and causes oil spill
  • – 1990 Mega Borg tanker catches fire and spills 19,000 square meters of oil near Galveston, Texas
  • – 1991 tanker Bahia Paraiso spills 3,774 barrels of oil near Palmer Station, Antarctica
  • – 1992 Greek tanker Aegean Sea spills 70,000 tons of oil near Galicia
  • – 1993 Bouchard B155 tanker spills 1,270 square meters of fuel oil after collision with 2 ships
  • – 1996 Liberian tanker Sea Empress spills 147,000 tons of oil near Wales
  • – 1999 Maltese tanker Erika spills 30,000 tons of oil near Brittany
  • – 2001 tanker Jessica spills 900 tons of oil near the Galapagos Isles
  • – 2002 Bahamese Prestige spills oil near Galicia)

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And this list goes on!  A future blog post will cover deforestation as this, and environmental protection / awareness in general, is something about which I am passionate.  When it comes to our environment, this is a topic that is applicable to all of us on Planet Earth.

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For fun (even though my wife is not a fan of Wikipedia!):

History to be learned

As I have stated in previous posts, over the years I have met numerous individuals during my travels and work experiences. The comments, jokes, and/or statements are in the thousands and I have always come to appreciate the life lessons I have learned from each encounter.

So, having the privilege of living in Virginia for over ten years the one constant theme besides my wife are the parks and waterways that I hold true and dear to my heart. While living in Williamsburg, Virginia, before moving to Virginia Beach to be closer to the ocean, I traversed pretty much every park and waterway in the Williamsburg area. One because at one time it was my job and two, well I just could not stand not being outside in the elements of nature. The wildlife, experiences, and entertainment I witnessed goes far beyond words.

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One park in particular was Freedom Park in James City County/Williamsburg Virginia. This one park I frequented on a regular basis has a plethora of mountain bike trails. (If you ride, this is a great place to mountain bike; it was one of the best kept secrets to the local Mountain Bikers in the area.)  When riding, always bring safety gear; a helmet should be worn and shin guards are advisable. There are some serious jumps on those trails, folks. Going airborne 10 to 15 feet into the air is not uncommon when jumping off these obstacles and many riders have been put into the hospital from accidents. Scout the jumps or obstacles before you attempt to go on or try your luck going off. They are no joke and should not be taken lightly. Two sets of rims, broken ribs, fingers, and a couple of close calls myself, so fun they were, but know your limitations. I cannot stress that enough! Be safe…. So, though it is a mountain biker’s paradise, at least in the local area within driving distances from Virginia Beach and the Richmond areas.  There is a very historical significance about this park people should know about other than the trails.

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Freedom Park is home to one of the nation’s first free black settlements in the United States. The history alone is worth the visit. Being able to hike, bike, and picnic are only several options; the historical significance of the park is just as, if not more, important. This is home to one of the first free black settlements in the United States. This was home to freed men and women (former slaves) to have land of their own to provide for their families as we all today try to strive for. The historical data and stories are endless, and this free black settlement is a hidden gem in Williamsburg.

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It is unfortunate, though, that few know that this restoration of a free black settlement exists.  Although no one lives in the cabins, visitors can visit the reconstruction of the cabins and acquire at least a slight idea of what life may have been like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for African Americans in the South. This brings me to a gentleman with whom I have had the privilege to speak; he is an excellent speaker, and never fails to share interesting information in his speeches and presentations. Retired Army Lieutenant Colonial Mr. Lafayette Jones Jr. is a descendant of the freed slaves who were granted their freedom by William Ludwell Lee.  Mr. Jones is a direct and kind-hearted man who has written a book and spoken throughout the area about the historical significance of his family’s history related to Freedom Park.  While speaking with him, I learned some great things regarding history, especially that of his family.  For those interested in history, Williamsburg is more than just Colonial Williamsburg and Revolutionary era history; there is fascinating history to be learned, too, through the Free Black Settlement restoration at Freedom Park.

Soft kiss

Soft kiss, gentle touch, no sound

Gentle touch, soft kiss

Would you have it any other way?

Fingers intertwine, Arms upon arms

Would you have it any other way?

Kiss behind the ear, soft bite of the lip

Breathing, no sound, gentle kiss

Would you have it any other way?

Soft kiss, gentle touch, arms intertwined in a dance

Would you have it any other way?

Hands on the back, soft breaths, gentle kiss, fingers intertwined

Would you have it any other way?

Breathing, soft sound, gentle kiss, soulful touch

Would you have it any other way?

The fight

What are we fighting for?

Maybe one day we will come together for a common cause.

When I wake up each day I wonder what will transpire and if I will make a difference in some form or another.

What are we fighting for?

Maybe one day we will come together for a common cause.

When I go to sleep each night I wonder if I made a difference somewhere in one form or another.

What are we fighting for?

Maybe one day we will come together for a common cause.

Trying to help doesn’t take much effort.

The usefulness of even a little effort goes a long way.

What are we fighting for?

Maybe one day we will come together for a common cause.

What are we fighting for?

What are we fighting for?

What are you fighting for?

Just noise

Pop, pop, pop.  What the hell…BOOM! The crater of water falling back to the surface. Boom… A deep growling baritone rises and then releases its full roar; again the crater of water falls back to the water’s surface. Everything around you is rumbling and shaking. An instant sense of fear engulfs your body and senses all over the echo of noise. You don’t know what to do about it. Boom! Pop, pop, pop; your body adjusts, your mind focuses as the crater of water continues falling all around. Ahh. More noise. It starts to become a musical which you and only you can compose. You still try not to flinch, but that particular song is too strong at times to ignore, so you continue on. Boom… You start to admire the sound, you start to embrace what’s going on. Pop, pop, pop. You hear it, but you yourself have to learn this song on your own. It will be ok. It’s only noise. The song plays on as you become a part of this particular song. Boom! Pop, pop, pop…You’re now in control.

See you in the next post!

The waters stream

The waters streaming

The water flows out

The water flows

The sound of birds, the sound of air blowing

The water flows

The light peaking out of and over the horizon

The colors starting to come to life

The water flows

The clouds engulf the colors

The splashes of jumping fish around you

The eagle and osprey diving into the water for their morning breakfast

The water flows

The light breaks free from the water’s edge grasp

The swirling of the air changes direction

The water flows

The rhythm of the day begins

The rhythm of the music is perfect for the moment

The water flows

The moment calls for silence

The silence calls for attention

The attention calls for a deep breath

You’re breathing

The water flows

You’re holding back the tears

You’re fighting it, but no matter hard you try they just stream

The water flows.

Thank you and see you at the next post.

Community experience

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There are important values that benefit communities; to me the park system is a major component of community development. Not only are the parks essential for providing activities for families, but they are a necessary buffer against construction and high-rises; some sort of opportunity to enjoy the outdoors is not only crucial for our ecosystem, but also for humanity.

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Some communities manage this combination fairly well; for example, Virginia Beach emphasizes this combination of nature and modernity; they are on point with providing their communities with parks that create a peaceful and a relaxed feeling, as well as an opportunity for many to enjoy nature on a regular basis. Virginia Beach has over 250 parks and facilities that offer something for everyone, and is home to more than 11,000 miles of shoreline and more than 100 rivers and streams. Folks, this is a water lover’s mecca. The amount of wildlife and marine life one encounters will just blow your mind. It can be mindboggling to witness such things up close and is a privilege for me personally. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I am very pleased to have these experiences. This does not include the Chesapeake Bay, which alone is a world of wonders to all who venture out on the water or just visit the shorelines.

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Each trip to a local park or while on the water is an opportunity to experience the beauty of nature. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone to visit the parks in Virginia Beach and if you have the time or the opportunity to go into the water or visit any of the landmarks and museums, I would hope you will not be disappointed. If you are into marine life, but do not have the opportunity to kayak or swim in the ocean or waterway, and want to experience firsthand what it is like to be up close and personal with otters, turtles, alligators, seals, and or komodo dragons, for example, I highly recommend visiting the Virginia Aquarium (and no, I am not being paid to endorse either the city or the museum).  Furthermore, who would not want to see mermaids swimming with stingrays and all types of colorful tropical fish?

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Thank you and see you at the next post.