Summer’s coming to an end, and I have a summer time story for you. It has a spiritual lesson in kindness, gratitude, and our interconnectivity, but there’s more to this story than that. I hope you will indulge me as I tackle a new topic today.
The story starts as just another fishing story from my son, Isaac. If you haven’t read about what a passionate fisherman he is, here are the links: Law of Attraction and Gratitude. However, it ends in my feeble attempt to garner more attention to an environment disaster currently occurring in our back yards in South Florida.
First, we fish
In June, my little fisherman had a week of marine science camp on one of the local beaches. After the first day, he started talking Dad and I into either getting him there early or staying late to fish. Seven hours of catching sea creatures during camp wasn’t enough for my extreme fisherman. I’m not exaggerating when I say this kid could fish all day!
One day, he’s convinced me to let him cast net near the pier after camp. His sister was staying with grandma, so I just brought a book and decided we could both enjoy something we loved. Everything was going swimmingly (pun intended) until Isaac got his cast net caught on a rock.
The water wasn’t too deep, so I told him to get his butt in the water and untangle it. Normally, he’s not squeamish about getting in the water with critters, but there were several big horseshoe crabs in the area. Thus, he was trying to figure out how to retrieve his net without getting his feet near their spiny tails.
Luckily for him, a fellow fisherman saw his predicament and came over to lend a hand. This 20-something man who was doing some post-work fishing said he knew a trick that he used when he got his net caught.
He and my son strike up a conversation as the man tries his hand at untangling the net. Sure enough, his trick worked and the net was saved without Isaac getting wet.
Fast forward to that weekend, the marine science center and a local restaurant hosted a free kids fishing tournament. Isaac and his dad showed up to the tournament early to catch some live bait. The restaurant provided cut bait, but the kids could bring their own.
Isaac went on to win 3rd place for the longest fish caught. He won a trophy and a net, but mostly was just the proudest, happiest boy on the planet that afternoon. Let me tell you, no participation trophy can make a child feel as good as a trophy that he earned. And let me tell you, he was beaming at the fact that he had put the extra effort in to get up early and catch his own bait.
More surprisingly, though was when he stopped gushing about his hard work and had a light bulb moment about that kind fisherman from earlier in the week. He told me that at some point he had run out of the live bait that he caught that morning, but not before catching the winning fish, a Spanish mackerel. He declared, “Mom, if it hadn’t been for that guy saving my casting net, I would have never caught that live bait, and I wouldn’t have caught that Spanish mackerel. I owe this trophy to that guy.” In his moment of victory, he thought about the kindness shown to him.
It was a beautiful moment for him to see and realize the impact of a small act of kindness. We decided to go back and try to find that gentleman to thank him and tell him about the fishing victory that came because of his actions.
Here’s where my lovely story sours, and I wade into chartered waters. We haven’t been able to go to the beach for about a month. Our lovely beaches and gulf water are currently filled with toxic green algae and red tide.
If you’re like a friend and thought maybe all that hubbub on Facebook about sea life in South Florida dying was internet hysteria, I’m here living amongst it and telling you it’s true.
Moreover, it’s far worse that you are seeing on the national news. It’s far more nefarious an occurrence than you are seeing on the national news.
Red tide, as is being reported, is naturally occurring. However, this is not a natural disaster. This is manmade. See, we have this large lake in the middle of the state, Lake Okeechobee, which has been polluted with fertilizer run off from agriculture farms. (I’m trying to keep what is a very large, on-going, complex issue from boring you to death).
The short story is water from Lake O is directed to our beaches through the Caloosahatchee River. That flow of water is not a natural occurrence. Moreover, the fertilizers in the water feed the red tide and make it grow in a very unnatural way. I’ll stop with the technicalities at that, but have provided several links below for more detail.
I’ve wanted to write a blog about this gentleman’s act of kindness and my sweet boy’s gratitude ever since it happened. I had waited because I wanted an ending to the story. An ending where we meet up with that kind fisherman, and Isaac told him how his small good dead led to such an exciting accomplishment for him.
That ending has not come and is not going to come anytime soon. It’s simply not safe to be near the water.
I know this is not my usual post, and we are silver lining seekers, so we haven’t given up on our ending wherein Isaac is able to express his gratitude to that man.
However, there’s a time to look on the bright side, and there’s a time to recognize when you can’t gloss over a problem that requires action. Florida, and many other parts of the country, is in a time when we must act and say no more glossing over the actions of corporate polluters.
More on the Florida water crisis: