The Mournful Sound

The wind is calm today, only a few small clouds dot an otherwise perfectly sketched sky. It is as if a skilled painter took his brush and added just a touch of white to a deep blue canvas. The creator, with a wave of his hand, has for us set forth another picturesque day.

Still, I am anxious. Caution like a smooth stone skips across the water reminding me and the others that all is not what it seems here along the North Shore. Beneath the stillness there is a sound, faint, yet screaming louder in my ears. It is this sound that frightens me the most.

It has been said that at one time the water was pure and free from pollution. Even in the naivety of my youth I find that hard to believe. The thought of such a body of water makes me sad to think of what it is that has been lost. 

I have witnessed the finality the hand of destruction brings, and although I do not know the full extent of the damage, I am able to imagine.

The impact of dangerous chemicals routinely dumped into lakes and rivers since long before I came to be is undeniable. When one views wild life habitats from above, below around and on the visual reality is soul-crushing.

At times I feel helpless, other times I want to scream at the top of my lungs – only my language is untranslatable, my voice too small to be heard.

The shores of the Great Lakes where I spend most of my time are filled with broken glass, dead fish and an ever growing collection of harmful diseases. It is hard to find a stretch of more than one hundred feet on the beach where garbage or the remains of a late night gathering do not clutter up the sand. 

All is quiet, but I sense something big is coming. The others sense it too, I can tell by the wariness in which they live. Fear permeates the air.

I am told the winters of late have been strange, unlike anything humans in these parts have known in years. I was not here. I made the long and somewhat tiresome journey south. I do know this, though, while Old-Man Winter was squeezing the thermometer in the North, Mother Nature was unleashing her wrath on us snowbirds in the South, proving the change in weather was not isolated exclusively to these parts. 

I have heard whispers from others, elders who say the rapid decline of our environment has produced uncommon weather in different parts of the world, as well. 

Not long ago my close friend Manna told of an oil spill he encountered on his way back to the North. Hundreds, maybe thousands of birds lay in the black mixture dead or dying. Only the quick actions of a group of locals saved a few precious lives. 

Somewhat shaken by the incident, Manna vowed to never again travel that route. “We must be alert and keep our eyes open for such disasters,” he warned in our native tongue.

I spend my days here on the water, not fully aware of what it is I am missing. I know no other world than the one in which I live and breath. 

Still somewhere inside there is a void, a space that cannot be filled with ancient stories. Stories passed down through years, decades and centuries from one species to the next. 

Even though all I see is all I know, at times I feel the loss; the loss of a clean environment, the loss of a life free from dangerous oil spills and poisonous chemicals that threaten our very existence.

As we slowly turn the page on another year, a strange and haunting year, I am uneasy about the future and what the corrupt hand of those who care only for gain will bring to these parts; what the end result will be for me and my kind. 

The mournful sound of a world on the brink of a disaster unlike anything in history can be heard by those who have the ears with which to listen. 

And so it must be as I rise from the water with all the strength in my young wings and circle the beach, flying over garbage, broken glass and other debris, for man is the ruler of this delicate world we inhabit, and we must not question the one we call Father of his choice.

(November 2020)