This is Bob Nelson. Thank you for your patience as we worked through the details to be able to webcast the Celebration of Life for Bernard. The event is tomorrow, and the details of time and place are listed in the immediate previous post of this website.
So on my recent expedition, I finally had an open sea encounter with a Great Hammerhead shark. Technically, I had one at Protea Banks in South Africa, but it was VERY fast and mostly fleeting – all I saw was it’s caudal fin speeding it away from our group of divers.
In Florida, to quote erstwhile shark fisherman Quint, I got the head, tail, the whole damn thing. Unfortunately, Great Hammerheads are a speedy fish and this one was on a mission (my camera battery also died, so I didn’t get a shot), so it was similarly fleeting. But I saw it – and now, when it comes to the big sharks – I’ve only got three left I need to tally in the wild: a tiger, a basking, and a megamouth.
Sadly – this was not the only thing I would see on this dive. I witnessed a man die. The news article I’ve linked to glosses over what happened, but it was a fairly grisly way to die. As a spectator to it, I’ve been trying to make sense of it – and gosh, let’s see how my brain reacts the next time I do a big step off a dive deck or try to get up on a ladder out of the ocean. This poem is an attempt to reconcile what I know and what I don’t know about death. Continue reading “Death at Sea (New Poem)”
Last week, I went on a very short, but very productive expedition to my home waters off of Palm Beach County, Florida. Much of it was a “return to dive” exercise. Part of the reason for my absence off this website was that I was convalescing from fairly intensive surgery (that caused two major complications that caused me to miss an expedition and training in Bonaire, and another expedition to the cenotes of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula). Continue reading “Come Dive with Me, Come Dive, Let’s Dive Away!”
What’s it like to Scuba Dive with sharks? Most of the time, it is a calm, ethereal experience. But some of the time, especially when the sharks know there is food to be had, the energy in the water changes. The sharks are still indifferent to us, but they can definitely let their presence be known!
This dive was at Beqa Lagoon in Fiji, where the sharks help support the communities of Beqa, Yanuca Island, and Korovisilou.
While the sharks are given incentive to show up, the dives are regulated amongst the local community dive shops to not stress the sharks – a strictly no-touch policy among the guest divers, and non-lethal, non-invasive deterrents are used when the sharks (here, the bull sharks) get a overly aggressive (you’ll see the shepherd staffs used once or twice).
I hope you enjoy this dive, and I encourage you look up the ways sharks enrich Fijian life, from the opportunities they give communities, to their place in traditional Fijian beliefs, art, and music!
Yesterday, I completed a morning hike the 304 Piestewa Nature Trail in a record post-surgery/blood poisoning time of 39 minutes. Still 7 minutes off my best pre-surgery time, but down 30 minutes since I started hiking post-surgery but pre-blood poisoning.
The weather was amazing yesterday. I started the hike as the Piestewa Peak sunrise drummer was finishing the drums and as he started started the morning call/prayer (you should check him out).
I pushed myself by reminding myself of the unremitting current of Kan Thila in the Maldives. On that dive, we wildly overshot our drop point, and our group wound up swimming into current for a good 5-10 minutes. We signaled several times that we hitting our limit, and at one point the guide aquiesced and allowed us to hook into the reef to catch our breath.
Well folks, it’s been over 3 years since I last wrote a post from this blog, and that’s just not acceptable. I’ve ghosted you, and I promise I’ll never do that againl; of course, according to the Qowat Milat, a promise is a prison, so let’s just say I’ll TRY to do better in keeping this thing informed and informal. Continue reading “Hiatus over! Let the Blogging commence.”
The full moon hangs spectral
in African air chilled by Antarctic exegesis
whipping waves that bring
the leatherback mother
to a lonely stretch of titanium sand
a ritual of night
to call forth a new generation
we will bear witness
For the longest time,
no one remembered how we were partners,
the Good Cop and Bad Cop of Yuletide,
a symphony of jingle bells and rattling chains
‘ere we drove out of sight.
How disturbed must they have been by the thought of me
looking over your shoulder and salivating
as you added children to the naughty list
for transgressions great and small.
You were the carrot,
oranges in the stocking,
presents under the tree,
half-eaten cookies as a reminder that you were there.
I was the stick,
birch branches in hand,
bathtub on my back,
my stew-pot bubbling in anticipation of fresh meat.
You were the red and green of holly and mistletoe,
I was the poison.
From the first,
I have been with them.
Born of the sands of Egpyt,
I was Abo Ragl Ma Slokha,
Man with the Burnt Leg,
bane of wicked tots.
Parents around the world would conjure me in story, the Namahage, le Croque-mitten, Baba Yaga, El Coco,
to keep their brats in line.
In their stories,
they always gave me horns,
a cloven hoof at the end of one leg,
a misshapen foot on the other,
my teeth sharp,
tongue so long it could reach them from under the bed
to taste their nightmares.
When I crossed the Alps, followed the Danube,
I found a new home under the Solstice moon.
As the fires of Yule cheer burned in the village squares,
I shouted my name so loud that every child would remember it,
whisper it to each other between shudders:
THE KRAMPUS!!! When the willful boy or indolent girl came to a bad end
parents would remind the kinder:
Behave or the Krampus will come for you too.
When we first met, Santa Claus,
I thought you were there to kill me.
You came to my cave in regal glory.
Father Christmas! Jolly Old Saint Nick!
Your light washed away the darkness so I had no place to hide.
Trapped, I thought you were there to finally bring a gift
to those excluded as an annual tradition.
You cannot imagine my surprise when you extended your hand,
asked “won’t you ride my sleigh tonight?”.
You put me in chains as a precaution,
you still felt my wicked heart beat beneath my goatish chest,
but left me my bundle of sticks
because as you said: spare the rod, spoil the child.
Why does no one ever see the shadow behind your rosy cheeks?
Over the years, we brought so many children to goodness,
I rarely ate.
I did not mind,
I was able to drink in their fear like an elixir.
Then one foggy Christmas eve,
I noticed your sleigh was now driven by a broken buck with a freakish nose, your retinue filled out with polar bears drinking caramel-colored sugar water, the sack was filled with things never seen in your workshop before.
My eyes full of terrible wonder,
you leaned in,
said one word: “Plastics“.
I did not like the sound of it.
As we flew over the city and marched down the streets,
your image was everywhere.
On billboards, in newspaper ads, on TV, in shopping malls.
I would have no part of this,
with sadness in your voice, you agreed: I would have no part of this.
You banished me back to the cave,
exiled into fading memory.
But I feel them pulling me back,
through of the Black Forest,
past the gingerbread house,
out of the fairy tales,
and into a cage.
They are corking my teeth,
dumping out my stew-pot,
reeling my tongue back in,
making me safe,
making me fun,
making me marketable.
It will not be long before I star in the limelight of cartoons,
baked into the shape of cookies,
imprisoned within wrapping paper.
When I am a triumph marched down 5th Avenue on Thanksgiving,
I will know they have checked me off their list,
now as gelded as Donner and Blitzen.
I see you up there on your sleigh,
and for the first time since we first met, Santa Claus,
the Krampus is afraid.
I wonder if you felt like this, when the ad-men turned their attention on you.