Deltonas’ Death Zone

Sandhill-Crane-pair-with-Chick-photographersselection.orgSlowing but gracefully they stroll. In pairs and often large groupings, sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) make their way daily across our roadways. Here in Deltona, Florida where I live this routine unfortunately includes tragedy for these gentle giants.

Like many forms of wildlife, sandhill cranes travel from place to place during the day. Sometimes flying but mostly by walking, these gray heron-like birds with their red capped heads and long neck and legs run the gauntlet of our roadways. One particular location along Newmark Drive between Treehaven Drive and Salters Court has become especially deadly for these beautiful birds.

Winding its way between lakes, Newmark Drive along this stretch winds through remnants of lakeside pine and oak hammock and forms a natural corridor for these cranes to journey from Lakes Elizabeth and Theresa to forage their bordering grassy plains. Despite posted lowered speed limits (35 mph) along Newmark Drive, motorists race down this road whipping around the curves that cut through this wildlife corridor. Over the span of two years, I have seen the contorted crumpled feather masses of five of these precious creatures.

On one occasion, I arrived on the scene immediately after another vehicle has plunged through a group of sandhills crossing the road leaving one sprawled on the roadside. Pulling over, I went to the poor bird. I was brought to tears as its colorfully brilliant eye gazed up at me in a frozen stare. There was nothing I could do but drag it from the road into the grass hoping its passing would be more gentler there.

At other times, while going along Newmark and other roadways I have witnessed motorists driving at high rates of speed up to sandhill cranes almost as if they deliberately intended to hit them. Quick jogs, which by the way are commonly necessary for a sandhill to take flight, in these cases have been the only reason more sandhills have not been hit-and-run victims. While walking my dog, I stood in awe as one driver rapidly approached two sandhills, only to brake at the last minute as the birds attempted to remove themselves from the road. I yelled at the driver and he looked back at me with a shocked expression like he was surprised.

sandhill_crane_spesee.orgThis kind of driving behavior and wanton callousness on the part of motorists prompted me to write my City Commissioner pleading for the posting of warning signs along Newmark Drive. I’ve seen these kinds of visual warning signs along other roadways and wondered why our own community had not already put them in place. It made me wonder how many sandhill cranes have to die from hit-and-run drivers before we realize there’s a problem?

Two signs were placed along Newmark Drive some time after that. They might have helped because I hadn’t seen any more fatalities but motorists continued to speed along the road. Several times, I would stop my vehicle and wait for a group of sandhill cranes to cross the road in front of me. In most cases, the other motorists behind and in-front of me were patient and courteous enough to do the same, but that is not always been the case.

A three months ago, one of the signs along Newmark, the one approaching Timbercrest from the west disappeared. Shortly thereafter, I spied the tangled body of a sandhill along the roadway where I recalled the sign had been while driving home from work. Then, last evening as I returned home along Newmark there was yet another dead sandhill crane lying beneath the oaks trees in one of the curves in the road. What is the problem with people that they cannot yield the right of way to these birds? I have to wonder if these hit-and-run drivers are the same people who seem to hit turtles trying to cross a road? An animal like a deer, cat, or dog darting across the road is one thing but something crossing as slowly as sandhill cranes do shouldn’t be a no-brainer for a typical driver. If sandhill cranes face this kind of danger on a regular basis, what kind of hazard might some impaired person face?

We really have to rethink some things because the way we often treat other creatures in our world reflects something about how we regard our fellow humans.

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Perspective on Relevance

This blog is going to be taking on a new role in addition to its reflection on the natural world and life.

More and more I have noticed how foundational the patterns and cycles in nature are related to our own human perspective on life and our sense of place. Like plants, we need to have roots established wherever it is we exist to help maintain our overall being.

For example, an understanding and appreciation of the history of a place can go a long way in living a more fulfilling life. We know of many instances where the rise and fall of a civilization or culture has been linked to the people’s understanding of their history, or lack there of. One classic example mentioned a lot is the Roman Empire. Here we see a dream or ideal of a form of culture that grew and expanded to greatness but then seemed to stagnate and decline. What happened to them? Where did they go wrong?

Well, it’s said that over the hundreds of years that the Roman Empire grew, these people gradually strayed away or over time lost sight of the ideals and practiced principles that made them great. Once disconnected from what made them who they were, the Roman Empire lost its will to be and eventually came apart. How is this kind of decline repeated today?

Many may agree that we can see some of the same trends in our own society and nation today. In some instances, we have failed to recognize the relevancy of our history. After all, haven’t we recorded history for a couple of hundred of years now? Surely we should have learned a few things by now? Circumstances and events in our history tend to repeat. We should use the knowledge gained to make better choices for our future.

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This week I begin work as Executive Dire

This week I begin work as Executive Director of the West Volusia Historical Society. http://ow.ly/JNxHy

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This week I begin work as Executive Dire

This week I begin work as Executive Director of the West Volusia Historical Society

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Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates

We’ve probably by now all seen or heard that line from Forest Gump but have you ever experienced it?
Sometimes the most seemingly trite and mundane remarks bear more fruit in our lives than we realize. Due to past experiences, I’ve come to recognize some significance to simple things, such as a sunrise or sunset; after all one never knows when she or he is witnessing their last.
Life is fluid and we really don’t know what’s around the corner past what we normally perceive we have control over. We just don’t know.
But rather than fret or sit stigmatized with the reality that we are not the center of our known universe, we need to step out boldly where truly no person has knowingly gone. We need to acknowledge who and what we are and not be afraid to do something with our lives.
Dream and strive to do things to achieve that dream. It may be true that the unexpected will bring along detours but every step of the journey does somehow serve a purpose in reaching that ultimate goal. Look at those pieces of chocolate as the fascinating flavors that they can bring to our lives. You never know when one might turn out to be that anticipated something.

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We Are But A Flicker of Light

Light and life have many things in common.

As I’ve shared before, light brings illumination to our day. It reveals all things bright and beautiful. By its’ presence our daily lives find brightness and warmth. Likewise, life gives a gift of incalculable wealth to everything it touches.

Rays of sunlight do not know the great value that they bring to the world. Plants know. The miraculous biochemical reaction of photosynthesis, which allows plants to produce their own food and thus form the base for countless chains of interaction between living things, derives its’ energy from sunlight. We on the other hand may not be able to make out own food, but we can nurture and foster life in much of what we do.

A person’s life may not seem important to them at times yet their actions and deeds can impact countless others. We tend to be impressionable and remember certain things, like those things which bring joy and laughter to our lives. Like the ripples in water, these kinds of acts spread out through the lives of those we touch and on into the lives they too interact with.

Each day, our light shines and brings hope and joy to others. It can glow bright with the loving warm like the sun or it can do harm in what it radiates. We all have a choice in how choose to shine in this world and it should not be taken lightly.

As the sun rises and travels across the sky, our lives journey over time and space. At some point our light reaches it’s’ zenith and fade or blink out. In time each of our lives will flicker out. What kind of light are you giving to the lives around you? How will that light shine on?

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Sunrise Reset

Life can sometimes suck, pure an simple. Fortunately, everyday there’s a reset.

Like a lot of people, I was laid off when our economy took a nosedive. My life, my routine, my very existence became strangely altered. I suddenly came under my own critical introspection critiquing everything I’d ever done and not liking myself. That’s when I started to notice the sunrise.

Since I had spare time on my hands, sitting with a cup of coffee at dawn formed the start of each day of job searching. Sitting there in the quiet of the morning, the natural things I observed offered me subtle reminders to that my life wasn’t ending, it was rebeginning.

I saw bumblebees stunned by the evening chill and seemingly dead slowly come to life. With those same morning rays of light, I listened to birds in the tree tops open the day with cheerful song. As the sun crept up over the horizon I began to find myself smiling at the varied patterns of color painted before me and I found myself feeling encouraged and renewed for the day.

Oh sure, the challenges in my life and need for a job remained but I was now looking forward, not backward. Each sunrise seemed to beckon me, fill me, fuel me, and brighten my day. I took each of those moments and treasured them, tucking their comforting impressions into the forefront of my days.

Gradually, over time my daily renewal changed my outlook and disposition. Like that bumblebee I once closely observed, each day the welcoming morning sunrise brought new life to me. Now, each morning as I ride the train to my new job, I sit by the window and watch with joy each day’s renewing sunrise. Have you taken the time to renew your day?

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