As Changing as the Tides
It’s amazing how our perspective changes as we grow. I grew up a southern boy. As a matter of fact, my childhood home was about six blocks from the Gulf of Mexico, making my childhood about as southern as one could ever hope to have. I have fond memories of aquamarine waters. My childhood friends and I would hop on our bike with all the fishing gear we could muster up packed in a red ryder wagon attached securely to the back of our bikes with a little twine. The harbor master knew to look out for us, and knew which phone numbers to call, if we decided to start act foolishly. I spent a countless amount of time on that beach fishing, floundering, crabbing, and swimming in these waters.
I relocated to the mountains when I was just hitting my teenage years. My adolescence was filled with all the perils, life lessons, and memories that have given that ...view middle of the document...
What all had changed?
We woke the next morning to the wonderful smell of bacon and coffee. I just knew this was going to be a great day. I was eager to visit with childhood friends and to explore the old forts and childhood hangouts that were still so vivid in my memories. The first destination on my list was where I had spent most of my childhood: The Beach! I had no idea that this day would change and shape my environmental views forever.
When we arrived at the beach I was mortified. Before even pulling into the harbor, this awful stench filled the vehicle. It didn’t take me long to discover the source, as I stepped out of the car and headed for the docks. The aquamarine waters I had been raised in no longer existed. In its place was this “Bog of Eternal Stench.” My heart sank; all my fond childhood memories now tainted with the reality of what the waters had become. There were signs posted along the beach warning the visitors that the seafood was not edible, unless you traverse past the barrier islands that resided twelve miles off the coast.
Almost immediately my mind went searching for answers. What could have caused this? Could it have been stopped? I headed back to my family’s house with a heavy heart and a mind full of questions. Somehow I knew the answers would not provide any solace. When I arrived, I expressed my dismay to my family. They proceeded to enlighten me on what had taken place since my departure as a boy.
A year after I had left the coast, the State had legalized riverboat gambling. The law stated that gambling establishments could operate as long as they were located on the water. While this shot the local economy skyward, it was the waters that ultimately paid the price. I came to the conclusion that whenever our environment stands in the way of what most consider to be human progression, it is the environment that will suffer. Until people come to realize that our little blue rock is our greatest treasure, we will continue with this self-destructive behavior. I had never to that point been an eco-friendly type of guy. That single experience changed my whole perspective on environmental issues. I no longer take the planet we are blessed with for granted.