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Walden of the Tropics - photo copyright/Lisa Brunetti

My “Walden” of the Tropics – photo copyright/Lisa Brunetti

Before moving to Ecuador, I lived along a quiet stream in Costa Rica’s dry rain forest. Jaguars sometimes left their footprints in muddy areas to remind me not to venture out too far at night, and other exotic nocturnal animals allowed fleeting glimpses from time to time.  (Red-eyed Pacas and golden-eyed kinkajous)   Regal morpho butterflies surfed the invisible air currents above the cool waters of the stream while howler monkeys foraged and entertained me from the dense canopy overhead.

After a week of studying petroglyphs, I painted this 'headphone holder' coconut head and was surprised how it all but painted itself!

After a week of studying petroglyphs, I painted this ‘headphone holder’ coconut head and was surprised how it all but painted itself!

Quite at ease, this one often loiters very near where I worked.

Quite at ease, this howler often loitered where I worked.

Almost every day the howler monkeys meandered through the tree tops along a specific-yet-relaxed route which included a stop-and-gawk session at the studio.  Like watchdogs, they often slept in the treetops above the roof.   Some mornings they slipped away silently, and other mornings they roared and howled until I finally opened the door, stepped outside and returned their greeting: “Buenos dias!  Good morning!  Ummmph-ummmph-ummmph-ummmph…”  (Roaring upsets them;  quiet ‘ummmphs’ calm them.)

06 CR howlers MOTHER Y BABE

If one looks up, many times the howlers are quietly observing.

If one remembers to look up, many times the howlers are quietly observing.

They became quite territorial in my behalf and seemed to watch over me.    The ‘little ones’ taught me a few subtle nuances of their language, and I could often call them a bit too close for my comfort!

"Will You Teach Me To Speak English?"   Cultural Exchange - Costa Rica and then a surprise visit to another blog!

“Will You Teach Me To Speak English?” Cultural Exchange – Costa Rica and then a surprise visit to another blog!

While the adult warned, "Don't listen to that gringa loca!"

The adult warned, “Don’t listen to that gringa loca!”

How well I remember a quiet morning in Costa Rica when “my” troop of monkeys raced by without stopping.  “Hmmm,” I thought, “That was strange.  I wonder where they’re going.”   About half an hour later, they raced back in the other direction.  “Yes; that was very strange.”

Surely Little Bit enjoyed this flight through the mango trees!

Several hours later the entire country was shaken by a very strong earthquake.  Thirty minutes later a second one transformed the trees, power poles and vehicles into a moving Salvador Dali painting!   I’ll now pay close attention when howler monkeys race through the canopy! *

PC170477 EL MATAL HIGH NOON MID DEC FRIGATES

Years later in Ecuador, I remember looking up and seeing a line of frigate birds flying to the northeast.  They were extremely high, and the line stretched as far as I could see in both directions.  I watched for ten or so minutes, then looked again several hours later.  They were still flying up the coastline.   “Hmmmm,”  I thought.  “That is strange.  I wonder what this means?”

PC170506 FRIGATES EL MATAL DEC 2014

A few weeks later I read where tourists were stranded at Machu Picchu due to extreme heavy rains. (January 2010)  Roads and railroad tracks were washed out, and the tourists were evacuated via helicopters.  If I ever see an exodus of frigates overhead, I’ll know that bad weather’s in the forecast!

(*While writing this, a temblor shook the town around 9:30 this morning!)

cr 02 HOWLER JUMPS

A few days ago I admired the birds at sunset and realized that they feed and nest and tend to their own business and could care less if we humans survive or not.  Our absence would not affect them at all, and it would halt the raping and plundering of the natural resources.  Our planet could begin to heal.

The following images were all taken from the comfort of Casa Loca!  It’s not so crazy to live in harmony with nature when these neighbors grace my daily view!

April 18 sunset

April 18 sunset

Soaring home

Soaring home

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The monarch butterflies are vanishing. See Washington Post: (The Monarch Massacre; Nearly a Billion Butterflies have Vanished)  Sea life is dying, species are beaching, starving, deformed…  Siberia’s been waving flags – first by releasing earth’s pressure with “unexplained’ methane blow holes, and now areas of Siberia are burning.  Scribbler: March 2015: One-Kilometer-wide Methane Crater found in Siberia  

The methane craters definitely got my attention, and I’ve been following the story closely.  Did the news of the mysterious craters get your attention?  They seem to be part of an ongoing canary-in-the-cage story, and now there’s a new chapter.

The following post from Robert Scribbler begins with these chilling words: “The script reads like a scene from some post-apocalyptic disaster film.”

It ends with this sentence: “And so we are just at the start of a long road through another hellish Arctic fire season, one enabled and made far, far worse by a current and very rapid rate of human-forced warming.”

Please take time to read this if you’ve not been following the story.

The Dry Land Burned like Grass:  Siberia’s Road to a Permaburn Hell 

Earth day is every day, and if each one of us were just a bit more proactive, we might make a slight positive difference in our planet’s health.   Do we REALLY need to use as much water as we do? Can’t we save some of that water we send out the drain and water our house plants with it?  If you don’t have a house plant, get one today!

April 1, 2013   Photo by Barb Seibel

April 1, 2013 Photo by Barb Seibel

Here on Ecuador’s coast, I remain  impressed with how fast the plant life grows after the life-giving rainy season arrives.   Compare the photo above, taken two years ago, with the one below, taken yesterday.  Everything that you see (below) is ‘inside’ that rustic bamboo fence!  I am also sobered at how fast things die when those life-giving rains are delayed.  It’s a domino effect and we have to begin to reforest our planet one tree at a time.

April 18, 2015

April 18, 2015  – The native trees, which sprouted as volunteers, are the tallest and hardiest.  The birds love the canopy as well.  To most people, they’re ‘junk’ trees, but they provide cooling shade, dense mulch and habitat.

A few years ago I winced when I saw a large area of the rolling hillside that had been “clearcut” for agricultural use.   The corn, planted at the beginning of the rainy season, began to suffer when the clouds turned off their taps.  The suffering corn plants began to tassel at about three-feet tall; the crop was a total loss.   The absence of canopy created an inversion of heat, which repelled the life-giving rain clouds.    (Other areas received rain.)  Even shade-giving living fences would help, but many times almost every tree is destroyed to justify more cropland.

A living fence provides comforting shade in Nicaragua!

A living fence provides comforting shade in Nicaragua!

We all agree – we’ve created a monster, but what can we do about it?  While others with deep pocketbooks go after the big boys, what can we – the little ones – do to help?  Apathy is not the answer.  We criticize the destruction of the wetlands, the rain forests and the mangroves, but we sometimes forget that our ancestors and possibly our own generation are responsible for loss and desecration of oxygen-giving and life-sustaining woodlands.  We’ve traded those resources so that we can build cities, retreat to the suburbs, drive on superhighways, visit shopping malls.  We can drive and fly most anywhere we desire- we have it all – at our planet’s expense.

How can Mother Nature fight back?

How can Mother Nature fight back?

Vast farmlands, ranches, feedlots and oil fields supply our consumption needs.  By using our superior intelligence, we’ve split the atom, explored beyond where the human eye can peer into space, yet we still cannot halt or reverse the damage we’ve done to our planet.  Nuclear power reactors backfire, and no one knows how to put some of these monsters to sleep.

Will there be any ancient trees left to tell our story?

Will there be any ancient trees left to tell our story?

We want to halt the destruction, but what’s stopping each one of us from planting trees, and lots of them?   If one doesn’t own the land, one can ask permission to plant trees elsewhere!  We criticize the oil companies, yet we continue to pump that fuel into our vehicles or make unnecessary trips or keep our homes way too cold in the summertime or way too warm in the winter.  We are all partly responsible, and we need to wake up before the canary falls over dead in the birdcage! What will it take for all of us to awaken and adjust our lives to live in closer harmony with nature?

Recently I recommended a book to my friend Bob Ramsak. Bob posted about the Chevron ‘hidden’ tapes that recently came to the public eye.   Read Joe Kane’s SAVAGES (1995) and you’ll agree – if an Indian from a remote area of the Amazon finds the courage and drive to take his plea to corporate USA in New York, can’t we be inspired by his story?

Scan the comments on Goodreads/ Savages   Here’s one: “Reading this book kinda made me want to burn down every gas station I saw.”  (Todd)

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Panama City Zoo - Republic of Panama -Mango Tree!

Panama City Zoo – Republic of Panama -Mango Tree!

Check out the Chasing Ice documentary site and watch the captivating video clip below:

Our planet is in serious trouble, and we have to push ourselves out the door and become proactive and do something, even if it’s a tiny drop in the bucket.  Each drop helps!

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Help us get off this road to Hell.

One day thistree will shade (and cool)  the house!

One day this tree will shade (and cool) the house!

Thanks for listening!  Now go plant a tree – or ten of them- and remember to use that dishwater for thirsty plants!  The monarchs would appreciate a garden showcase of milkweed vines as well!

A lovely host for the monarchs in Latin America...

A lovely host for the monarchs in Latin America…

Monarch in Progress - Copyright Lisa Brunetti

May our descendants always have live monarchs to admire! ( Acrylic: Monarch – Copyright Lisa Brunetti)

P1860940 monarch

Remember that Earth Day is every day! Z

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