Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thoughts Clouding a Beautiful Morning

This morning, I took my first bike ride of the season on my favorite lakeshore path. It was a perfect spring morning; the grass is green, flowering trees are budding, and the tulips are in bloom. I only rode about twenty minutes each way but I enjoyed every minute of my ride.

But as I rode south from my house, and looked out over the sun dancing over the sparkling water, I could not get the Gulf Coast catastrophe out of my mind. I tried to imagine my beautiful body of water covered in oil and even the thought of it upset me. I watched the seagulls preening themselves on the remnants of old docks and imagined them covered in oil, too. I saw fishing boats and thought about the fishermen, commercial and recreational, who suffer from ecological disasters such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

I stopped at a favorite spot to rest. It is at the end of a dead end street near where I used to live. My children used to climb these rocks and play at the beach in the small cove here. That was almost thirty years ago and I am happy to see that the water is still crystal clear here (although the beach has been marked as Private Property and I have to wonder about that).

This morning the wind was coming from the south. As I approached Southport Park, I was reminded that the sewage treatment plant is at the west end of the park. You can’t always smell it, and this morning’s odor wasn’t as awful as it could be. People have reported that in the Gulf Coast there is a pervasive horrible oily smell. I can only imagine it, but again, another reminder of the current disaster in the Gulf interrupted my enjoyable ride.

I don’t know what kind of similar event could affect the Great Lakes so quickly and so profoundly as an oil spill, but I do know ecological disasters happen. Can they be prevented? Some, I suppose, can be like the entry of the Asian carp into the lakes or preventing sewage and toxic materials from being dumped in the water. Can the experts think of all possible scenarios and prevent them? Probably not, but it sure would be comforting to see efforts being taken to prevent the ones that we know what to do about.

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