What the Bay Told Me
Life will not be the way it used to be
by Albert ‘Abby’ Ybarra
Over the year, I meditate on nature and life. I do it so I can find out what nature’s saying to me and how I’m changing along with it.
I also do it so I can answer the questions of friends and family back on the West Coast who ask me how I’m handling the changes of moving to Maryland from California. In February, I sent off a few postcard-perfect snow-scape pictures showing the folks back west how beautiful the Bay is dressed in white. In spring, I sent back pictures with captions like See how green everything is out here. Season by season, I have more to say.
In a mid-year morning walk on the beach, I stopped to look at the water’s edge and saw my reflection. I thought about the countless number of people who have done the same. I wondered how long the water would remain clear, knowing that not so many years ago, you could wade up to your chest and still see your feet.
I felt a strong connection to the past. It might have been my imagination, but I had the feeling the Bay was talking with me.
The breeze picked up, pushing the water around, and the water seemed to say, This is not the way it used to be. Years ago my waters were teeming with fish, oysters and crabs. There were no dead zones where oxygen is non-existent, making it impossible for me to support life under water.
In conversations with my kids, I use the phrase the way it used to be to describe the difference in the worlds we grew up in. My connection with the Bay water made me realize that we humans are on the cusp of irreversible changes. Life will not be the way it used to be. One way or the other, we’re going to have to adjust the way we live.
A sense of urgency sped up my reflections when I read a news story about Alaskan natives witnessing global warming and habitat alterations firsthand. Their way of life is changing as they deal with climate adjustments out of their reach.
What sticks in my mind were the words spoken by an elder of the Alaskan village, who said that What happens to us here in the polar region should be a strong warning to those who live in the lower 48 states.
In other words, we may not care about what’s happening now, but eventually we will have to deal with serious climate change unless we stop and adjust our direction.
My year-long reflections have made me wonder. Are we paying attention to the world around us? Do we care as long as we can still buy crabs and have drinks at the Shack? Do we understand the recent reports about dead zones, the seriousness of what’s happening to the melting ice in the northern regions of the globe?
In the postcards I send now to my family out west, I tell them that we all need to reflect on how we live and change the way we do things. I’m adding, too, that it’s time to change the way we live.
Anybody ready to do the same?
Albert Ybarra has reflected for Bay Weekly since 2002. A descendent of Mexican Indian and Native American ancestors, he is an avid conservationist and environmental educator.