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Leaving Your Footprints

Every day, I take an hour to focus on my health. Since I live on Pensacola Beach, there's nothing better for me than walking along the shoreline, right?


At first, I only noticed the water and clouds. The color pallet of cyan, emerald, magenta, orange and silver are striking. And it's different every day.


Over time, I learned the rhythm, who lived there, and who were passers by. As time passed, I slowly understood I was becoming a resident. I noticed little things that those around me completely missed.

I began noticing little changes that only deepened my curiosity. At first, it was noticing Ghost crabs, and their little holes and tracks they leave all over the place. I got some binoculars, so I could see them from afar without disturbing them. Now, I see them everywhere.


Then, it was the terns. They nest in the open, having just a few chicks, dodging seagulls and stormy weather. The chicks grow up fast. Mom and Dad share the feeding burden equally. Terns will dive bomb you. They are very territorial and bring tons of energy to the sky. But if you are calm and sit down, they'll begin to ignore you. My trusty binoculars again made me appreciate their hard work on a daily basis.


Then, I noticed Monarch butterfly migration. Stretching between late Summer and early Fall, these little brave insects take the long jaunt to Central America as part of their four year cycle. Most people, including myself, never even notice them as the flitter by. The strong instinct at times at odds with the strong winds that blow them off course. I often wonder if anyone knows how ancient their class is. I would dare say a few hundred million years old. But I'm not a biology major. Just some farm boy from New Jersey.


Then, there is the dynamic Dragon Fly. From September to October, these fun insects dominate the early morning and evening sky line just in the sea oats growing in the dunes. As they go searching for their mates, the dive bomb, harry, and dart in strangely random directions. They are exciting to watch. This class (insect) has been around for 300 million years.


And towards the end of tourist season, there is the hurricane. Sally came to us on 16 September, if memory serves me right, and wiped out many of the great dunes that used to be our beach. And I'm sure it took a great many creatures with it. And now, we prepare for Hurricane Delta.


It is the natural order of things. While we still get the same average amount of storms, they are becoming more powerful. And we really don't know the natural impacts on creatures, in the local environment in which we live just yet. My guess is they'll move further inland as well, or die trying.


This planet will always be here even as we witness the great changes in our climate. As we become more and more wet and hot, we can expect older creatures that'll emerge to take advantage. I'm sure alligators will be very happy. In my gut, I'm expecting a mass extinction as the fires burn and the glaciers melt. But, it'll be the specialist animals that will feel it the most (like polar bears). The general purpose animals will rise up, and begin creating new off shoots (like sharks) to fill the void.


Some view the future pessimistically. Others, like myself, see mass extinction as an opportunity for us to come together and fix things. To appreciate nature even more. There is no Planet B. No matter how you see it, the great power in nature's kingdom is at our feet to appreciate and respect. The question is whether we become a resident in our environment, or a passer by.


Estimates show Pensacola Beach will be under water in 30 years unless we cut back to zero carbon emissions starting right now. But, we know this won't happen. We all can make little changes, like riding a bike to work, or working from home. And still it won't be enough.


So, we must decide which way to go. We can make a living off of our planet where everyone takes as much as they can get, or we can live in harmony with it taking only what we need and leaving the rest in balance.


Until we figure this out, I encourage you to enjoy and be kind to our beach. Leave it in better shape than you found it. Be a good steward. Everything you do here, has an impact on the wild life. Be sure to enjoy it, while it lasts.


Leave only your footprints.



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