NASA Releases High-Definition View of ‘Pillars of Creation’


New view of the Pillars of Creation — visible New view of the Pillars of Creation, visible light. NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team.

heic1501a-detail New view of the Pillars of Creation, visible light, detail. NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team.

New view of the Pillars of Creation — infrared New view of the Pillars of Creation, infrared light. NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team.

comparison 2015 v. 1995 ‘Pillars of Creation’ comparison. WFC3: NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team. WFPC2: NASA, ESA/Hubble, STScI, J. Hester and P. Scowen (Arizona State University)

One of the most iconic images ever produced by NASA is the “Pillars of Creation” photograph taken by Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. The photo depicts tall columns (called elephant trunks) of interstellar dust and gas within the Eagle Nebula about 6,500 light years from Earth. For the first time in 20 years, NASA revisited the Pillars of Creation using a new camera installed on Hubble back in 2009 capable of much higher resolutions. The new photo, including an infrared version, was published yesterday. From the NASA press release about the new image:
Now Hubble has revisited the famous pillars, capturing the multi-coloured glow of gas clouds, wispy tendrils of dark cosmic dust, and the rust-coloured elephants’ trunks with the newer Wide Field Camera 3, installed in 2009. The visible-light image builds on one of the most iconic astronomy images ever taken and provides astronomers with an even sharper and wider view.
In addition, NASA says that although the original photograph was titled Pillars of Creation, the newer imagery suggests the columns might also contain a fair amount of destruction:
Although the original image was dubbed the “Pillars of Creation”, this new image hints that they are also pillars of destruction. The dust and gas in these pillars is seared by intense radiation from the young stars forming within them, and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars. The ghostly bluish haze around the dense edges of the pillars in the visible-light view is material that is being heated by bright young stars and evaporating away.
You can see the new photo in even higher detail by downloading images at several resolutions on this page. I also spent the morning cropping a bunch of wallpapers you can download here: 1280×800, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, 2560×1440, 3840×2400, iPad, iPhone, iPhone 5, iPhone 6, iPhone 6+. (via Metafilter)

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Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary: An amazing story

THE BLT -Bear, Lion and Tiger
They came from a background of abuse and fear. Now they've bonded together and are truly inseparable.
THE BLT (Bear, Lion and Tiger)
This, Lion, Tiger, And, Bear, Are, Most, Unlikely, Gang, Of, Friends, You, Animals, Nature

This Lion, Tiger, And Bear Are Most Unlikely Gang Of Friends You'll Come Across

This is Leo the African Lion, Baloo the Black Bear, and Shere Khan the Bengal Tiger.

The threesome were rescued as babies from the basement of an Atlanta drug dealer’s home when it was raided by authorities.

They were starving, traumatized, and had bacterial infections.

Since then, they were brought to Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary…

…Where they’ve lived in the same habitat together for 13 years.

The only time the three were separated was when Baloo was sent to surgery.

While at the drug dealer's home, Baloo had been mistreated so profoundly that the harness that was put on him had grown into his skin.

The two cats were distraught and cried for the bear’s return when he was at the vet’s. Since then, no one has separated the group.

They had clearly bonded during their earliest memories, and never wanted to be apart.

Now they live together as if they were brothers of the same species.

They play together, nuzzle one another, and are extremely affectionate.

The threesome are the only lion, tiger, and bear living together in the entire world.

They’re just that exceptional.

Humans could really learn from the bond that these three have.

Facebook: Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary
Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary

No one ever told them they couldn’t love one another, so they did just that.

Facebook: Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary
Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary

And now, even all these years later, they continue to do so. The trio are affectionately referred to as BLT, standing for bear, lion and tiger.

They might just be the most adorable sandwiches ever!

 Why can’t we all live in harmony….

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Were All American Indians Ecologists Or Is That A Myth?

(Click on all Nature photos in this post to expand and enjoy)

Here are three approaches examining this query:

1) A Book Report By MARK S. FLEISHER of THE ECOLOGICAL INDIAN Myth and History. By Shepard Krech 3d.318 pp. New York:W. W. Norton & Company. Imagine a life with nothing manufactured, with yourself starting from scratch and being forced to build everything you need out of natural resources, exploiting rivers, lakes, oceans and forests for food without significantly altering the landscape. We learned as kids that American Indians lived off the land in perfect harmony with nature, never taking too much or destroying rivers, grassland or forests more than they had to. Native American people are indeed the thoughtful consumers of native animals and plants, exploiting the landscape in careful, deliberate ways. Never would they overexploit buffalo herds or cut too many trees or use fire inappropriately. The American Indians truly understand what it means to live off the land. Right? Wrong, says Shepard Krech 3d in ''The Ecological Indian: Myth and History.'' Our notion of the Native American as the Ecological Indian, keeper and preserver of the environment, is merely an image fashioned by mythmakers -- some nave, others manipulative. If we look closely, he says, the image is unsubstantiated. His book is a well-researched, carefully written exploration of how Indians used and abused the environment and how our beliefs about them, shaped by cultural perceptions, have created a largely stereotypic image of real people. I spent the middle and late 1970's among Salish and Nootkan people on the Northwest Coast, conducting ethnographic and linguistic fieldwork as a graduate student and then as a fledgling assistant professor of anthropology at Columbia University. I vividly recall transcribing the Salish language Clallam and the Nootkan languages Hesquiat and Makah, spoken by tribal elders born at the turn of the century. I recorded hundreds of vocabulary items for animals, fishing and hunting techniques and accompanying rituals, and enjoyed native myths about how the world of humans and animals meshed in practical and mythic harmony for thousands of years of habitation at the edge of densely wooded forests on Washington's Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island's western seacoast south of Nootka Sound. I had no time then to question how Europeans and European-Americans conceptualized native people and their relationship to the environment. Nor did I wonder if elderly informants' statements about their treatment of the environment in the ''olden days'' were an accurate depiction of a lost life style. Krech, an anthropologist at Brown University, examines specific ecological issues and dissects each one into cultural and factual components. Did American Indians kill too many buffalo? If they did, why? Did they cut too many trees, and why? What was the effect? Did American Indians really inhabit a lush countryside, an Eden? Krech helps us understand these issues by separating facts from myths. There were so few American Indians on so much land that Europeans, accustomed to crowded spaces, perceived only paradise when they saw lightly peopled landscapes. Nor did the early Europeans see the abandoned, over exploited landscapes. Not only did Europeans interpret what they saw through a lens biased by a Western life style, they had little understanding of the cultural complexities of the Indians or of how Indians' views of animals, plants and forces of nature affected what we now see as over exploitation and abuse of the land. To understand the reality of American Indian use of animals and plants, we have to grasp basic cultural premises, Krech says, beginning with the pervasive theme that religion and economy are not separate. This means animals take on qualities similar to those ascribed to supernatural beings. Buffalo on the plains and salmon on the Northwest Coast were addressed as sentient beings capable of seeing, hearing and responding to us in different ways. If Plains Indians did not kill all of the buffalo forced over a ''jump'' -- a precipice over which they were herded -- the surviving buffalo and those avoiding the jump would ''tell'' other buffalo, warning them away and leaving the people hungry and without skins for clothing. Overkilling (as we see it) guaranteed future bounty (as they see it). I recall attending a First Salmon ceremony, when the skeleton of a salmon roasted on ironwood stakes and shared by community members was designated as the ''first'' salmon of the season and was carried by elders to the local river, wrapped like a baby in a blanket and placed gently on the water and allowed to drift back to the ocean. The skeleton, reborn at sea, would instruct his fellow salmon on the spawning route, thus insuring another bountiful harvest. Krech presents evidence sufficient to peel away beliefs from facts until finally the concept of the Ecological Indian as ecologist and conservationist erodes. This book is a good story and first-rate social science, but it is not without passion. Transforming American Indian cultures into the cliche of the Ecological Indian makes Krech angry. Such stereotyping betrays an unabashed disregard for the complexity of native cultures. Creating the Ecological Indian is like reducing the knowledge and artistic creations of Europeans and European-Americans for 5,000 years to a brief essay called ''Civilization.'' This book teaches us everything we have wanted to know about American Indians and the environment. But as an anthropologist and criminologist, I see that the cultural processes that created the Ecological Indian are still at work today. What white American society thinks it ''knows'' about American Indians is largely that society's cultural invention, untested by empirical science. This mythmaking is convenient, portable and can be used anytime, anywhere. It is also dangerous. Even positive stereotypes can be degrading. The ''Injun'' was the bloodthirsty savage we baby boomers grew up with on television. American culture uses degrading stereotypes to demonize what it dislikes, fears or simply does not understand; witness the American Indians and African-Americans. And the public now supports politicians' empirically unjustified stereotype of troubled youngsters as threatening street demons and, as if in a cultural stupor, allows the imprisonment of children in penitentiaries. Beyond the scholarly view of Native Americans, Krech's book quietly pleads that we continually test our cultural vision against reality, lest we simplify ourselves to a set of stereotypes and lose forever the vibrancy of American multicultural community life.

2)Native Americans and the Environment: A survey of twentieth century issues with particular reference to peoples of the Colorado Plateau and Southwest (page 9 of 10) Author: David Rich Lewis. Adapted from: Lewis, David R. 1995. "Native Americans and the Environment: A survey of twentieth century issues." American Indian Quarterly, 19: 423-450, by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Visit the University of Nebraska Press website at Stereotypes and Interests in Conflict In recent years, tribal land use - including their resistance to submitting to certain state and federal environmental regulations - has put Indians at odds with environmentalists. This turn of events emerges as Indians begin placing immediate needs and desires over older cultural regulatory patterns, shattering both traditional standards of behavior and static white stereotypes of Indians as "the original conservationists." Indeed, early environmentalists found inspiration in Native American cultures. Some was richly deserved while much was based on a cultural misinterpretation of a more complex and dynamic whole. The grosser stereotypes depicted Indians as beings without action or agency, who left no mark on the land, who lived within the strictest of natural constraints. These ideas unintentionally denied Native Americans their humanity, culture, history, and most importantly, their modernity.

This stereotypic vision blossomed in the 1960s and 1970s. Indians became symbols for the American counterculture, American environmentalism, and New Age mysticism - symbols for a way of life in opposition to urban, white, Christian, techno-industrial society. Iron Eyes Cody shedding a tear in television ads as he surveyed a polluted landscape, and an apocryphal speech written as a film script and attributed to Chief Seattle made Indians "the mascot of an international ecology movement." Native peoples fostered this facile view for its positive results. Yet in the end the images offered more a justified critique of industrial society than any critical understanding of Native peoples' complex interactions with the environment. Even the highly touted motion picture Dances With Wolves (1990) is a sensitive if misleading dance with mythology, using Indians and animals as environmental symbols to attack twentieth-century human-nature relationships. Stereotypic images persist to the detriment of Native Americans because the images relegate them to a "past" and misdirect non-Indian society's responses to modern Native peoples and issues.

Indians were never properly "ecologists" - a term referring to a highly abstract and systematic science. They were, however, careful students of their functional environments, bound by material and cultural needs and constraints, striving for maximum sustained yield rather than maximum production, yet unafraid to exploit moments of periodic abundance. They developed an elaborate land ethic based on long-term experience, tied to a cosmological view of the world with all its animate and inanimate, natural and supernatural inhabitants as an interrelated whole. They recognized that they were part of creation and acted accordingly. Land and place were central to survival, to their beliefs, to their very identity. They shaped their environments which, in turn, shaped them. Their population densities and technologies, subsistence strategies and beliefs mitigated perhaps the worst environmental degradations, but did not leave the natural environment or ecology of their regions untouched. They lived, they acted, they are, and oversimplified or romantic stereotypes should not deny them that complex human experience past or present.

3)“Collapse” by Jared Diamond, Penguin books, 2005. Professor Diamond evaluates the way societies have failed or succeeded, including the early American Indians who have been often portrayed as ecologists when they were a mixture of both the best and sometimes far less than we would expect, in the way they used and misused their resources. When speaking the truth from scientific evaluations it isn’t surprising that he has come under fire from those who perpetuate the myth. Here are some of his observations. “Efforts to understand past collapses have had to confront one major controversy and four complications. The controversy involves resistance to the idea that past peoples (some of them known to be ancestral to peoples currently alive and vocal) did things that contributed to their own decline.We are much more conscious of environmental damage now than we were a mere few decades ago.Even signs in hotel rooms now invoke love of the environment to make us feel guilty if we demand fresh towels or let the water run. To damage the environment today is considered morally culpable. Not surprisingly, Native Hawaiians and Moaris don’t like paleontologists telling them that their ancestors exterminated half of the bird species that had evolved on Hawaii and New Zealand, nor so Native Americans like archeologists telling them that the Anasazi deforested parts of the southwestern U.S. The supposed discoveries by paleontologists and archeologists sound to some listeners like just one more racist pretext advanced by whites for dispossessing indigenous peoples. It’s as if scientists were saying, “Your ancestors were bad stewards of their lands, so they deserved to be dispossessed.” Some American and Australian whites, resentful of government payments and land retributions to Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians, do indeed seize on the discoveries to advance that argument today.Not only indigenous peoples, but also some anthropologists and archeologists who study them and identify with them,view the recent supposed discoveries as racist lies. Some of the indigenous peoples and the anthropologists identifying with them go to the opposite extreme. They insist that past indigenous peoples were (and modern ones still are) gentle and ecologically wise stewards of their environments, intimately knew and respected Nature, innocently lived in a virtual Garden of Eden, and could never have done all those bad things; As a New Guinea hunter once told me, “If one day I succeed in shooting a big pigeon in one direction from our village, I wait a week before hunting pigeons again, and then go out in the opposite direction from the village.”Only those evil modern First World inhabitants are ignorant of Nature, don’t respect the environment, and destroy it. In fact, both extreme sides in this controversy—the racists and the believers in a past Eden—are committing the error of viewing the past indigenous peoples fundamentally different from (whether inferior to or superior to) Modern First World peoples. Managing environmental resources sustainability has always been difficult, ever since Homo sapiens developed modern inventiveness, efficiency, and hunting skills around 50, 000 years ago. Beginning with the first human colonization of the Australian continent around 46, 000 years ago, and subsequent prompt extinction of most of Australia’s former giant marsupials and other large animals, every human colonization of a land mass formerly lacking humans—whether of Australia, North America, South America, Madagascar, the Mediterranean islands, or Hawaii and New Zealand and dozens of other Pacific islands—has been followed by a wave of extinction of large animals that had evolved without fear of humans and were easy to kill, or else succumbed to human associated habitat changes, introduced pest species, and diseases.”

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Alaskan Wilderness

                                                                        In preparation for our Alaskan adventure, our delayed honeymoon during the late summer of 1972, we purchased an old yellow International Harvester panel van. Later that evening we decided to take the truck for a trial run on the highway and realized the tires needed replacement. We bought four new tires and took off for Lake Tahoe. No sooner than ten minutes on the road the smell of smoke alarmed me. Flames were coming up through the floorboard! At a gas station I poured water on the fire and found the exhaust pipe angle made hot contact with the wooden floorboards. Had the sellers planned a prank? My insurance company reimbursed us for the repairs. Bill Ruck, a friend from Cal State Long Beach, had joined a commune in Northern California, learned carpentry, and asked if he could help turn our truck into our “Yellow Submarine” for our trip. He made storage cabinets for our stereo, speakers, suitcases, and a hanging closet for clothes. We installed a stereo with speakers and stored tapes of our favorite music for our 3300-mile odyssey. Joan and I stored our belongings and food in the cabinets, clothes in the closet, and picked up road guides from AAA. At an Army Navy store we purchased green down jackets and sleeping bags that warranted comfort at 40 degrees below zero, and put a mattress over the cabinets with bedding and pillows. Storing my corvette in a garage for $10 a month, I placed it on bricks, took off the tires, and disconnected the battery.   Our course to Anchorage would take us to campsites we planned to roam with Shiva in British Columbia, past lakes, glaciers, towns, and cities we could only imagine. Booking a ferry from Prince Rupert, B.C. to Haines on the Alaskan Inland Passage, we embarked early on July first listening to Dylan’s “Like a Rollin’ Stone.” Berkeley behind us, we sang and joyfully anticipated an Alaskan adventure. “Don’t exceed the limit, Dan; you don’t need an arrest before your first law job.” The first night we stopped at a beautiful lakeside campsite just across the Canadian border. After parking our camper at the top of a hill overlooking the expansive lake surrounded by pines, and conifers, we walked out with Shiva on a leash  attached to her red collar as California Law required, gold name tag dangling,  her black coat shimmering in the sunlight, and she whined and tugged. A couple next to us walked over, “Let that dog go!" the burly husband said with a smile,“You're in British Columbia."                                                                                                       After unleashing Shiva she dashed down the hill, disappeared through pine trees, and plunged in the lake with a glorious SPLASH. I thought she would run away but she was after a flock of Canadian Geese that scattered honking and cackling. Each black head and neck, white chinstrap, light tan breast, and brown back rose in the sunset transforming the spectacle from tranquil to cacophonous, yet picturesque. Shiva swam around, lunged out, and raced back to me panting with her pink tongue hanging out. “Good girl, Shiva,” I said, scratching her neck and petting her black shiny head. She looked up in gratitude and shook water all over me. Joan and our new camp friends laughed and then made a fire for a BBQ. A feeling of freedom, fresh air, and the smell of pine trees, filled us with vigor. A crackling fire, basted chicken breasts, and corn on the cob, put us in the mood for sky watching. The twinkling stars we barely saw in California cities burst forth in the Milky Way galaxy. The “Tea Pot” in Sagittarius and Scorpio’s tail sparkled and shimmered. An hour later we were in sleeping bags with Shiva at our feet.   We drove through the pristine roads of British Columbia dotted with pines, oaks, and maples on our way to Prince Rupert. A Tlingit village that featured tall totem poles was celebrating a holiday and offered a canoe trip with a guide who told us their version of the creation story known as the Raven Cycle:   “Raven steals the stars, the moon, and the sun from Naas-sháki Shaan, the Old Man at the Head of the Nass River who kept them in three boxes. Raven transforms himself into a hemlock needle and drops into a water cup belonging to the Old Man's daughter. She becomes pregnant with him and gives birth to him as a baby boy. Raven cries until the Old Man hands him the Box of Stars, another with the moon, and a third with the sun. Raven opens the lid and the stars escape into outer space. He rolls the box with the moon in it out the door where it flees to the heavens. Raven waits until everyone is asleep, changes into his bird form, grasps the sun in his beak, opens the box, and the sun breaks free into the blue sky.” “That’s a beautiful and interesting myth,” I said. “It is no myth, it is our truth our ancestors shared with us. Never call the Raven Cycle a myth,” she reprimanded me angrily. Realizing I had put my foot in my mouth while seeking to learn about their culture, it occurred to me in awhile my clients in Alaska had their traditions and stories, which I would respect, and apologized to our Indian guide for using the word myth; but I had caused some damage. You can’t un-ring a bell. Once we reached Prince Rupert, we boarded a ferry for the Inland Passage to Haines. We slept on deck chairs outside when the crew secured our yellow truck alongside other vehicles. After ninety miles we arrived at Ketchikan, known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” home of all five species of salmon who inhabit the streams and waters of the Tongass for spawning, leaving their roe on the gravel. We took Shiva out for a walk along Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town.               When she saw salmon leaping up the “fish ladder” they climb to spawn at the top, she barked and raced to the edge filled with an electric charge of energy. I feared she would jump in and directed her back on the path that followed the creek through the primeval forest. The gravel beds are the end of the salmon’s struggle and are so thick with numbers the shallow streams were black with fins and twisting fish. Shiva smelled the dying salmon that had spawned, hurtled over logs, and bolted through underbrush in a frenzy searching for wildlife. Sand hill cranes, trumpeter swans, black-tail deer, porcupines, and wolves roamed the area. Red cedar, yellow-cedar, mountain hemlock, spruce, and shore pine were everywhere. Nature had aroused Shiva and us with such energy, we chased our black bouncing streak laughing with joy. We rested under hemlock and spruce and gave our Lab food and water next to an alpine meadow covered with pink fireweed, blue lupine and yellow poppies. A Ferry whistle brought us back to reality. After we got underway we saw killer whales and porpoises jumping and playing alongside the ferry. Bald eagles soared on thermals. Dall porpoises have black backs and white bellies resembling killer whales, but are much smaller, and generated a “rooster tail” spray visible for twenty feet. They were “bow riding”—a pressure wave like the blast of wind that follows a passing truck—they sidled up under the surface and rode inside the pressure wave.             At our next stop we left the ferry to see the capital of Alaska, Juneau. The mountains sloped down to the water where it rests along the shoreline. The Tlingit Indians have used the adjacent Gastineau Channel as one of their favorite fishing grounds for thousands of years. The native culture, rich with artistic traditions, included carving, weaving, orating, singing, and dancing.                                                               We saw the Mendenhall Glacier at the Juneau visitor center--a massive mountain of ice with cracks and fissures that revealed tints of blue and gray. The sound of ice chunks tumbling into the water below roared as the waves caused from violent forces shook floating icebergs sending ripples in the surface. The Mendenhall reached its point of maximum advance in the mid-1700s, while its terminus rested almost two and a half miles down the valley from its present position. The mighty glacier started retreating as its annual rate of melt began to exceed its yearly total accumulation. Its bulk now retreats at a rate of one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet a year. Global warming has accelerated the process so the glacier will disappear in several centuries.

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Winners Never Quit

            (Click on photo images to expand) When I was thirteen, Dad received orders to command the USS Whetstone (LSD- 27) at the Naval Amphibious Base at Coronado, California. He had taken Chip and me on a road trip from Chicago ahead of the family to find a house on the island. By preparing swordfish grilling it with a little butter, pepper and salt, he wowed us with his cooking before his parents and Aunt Jane arrived. A Spanish-styled three-bedroom house surrounded by a white wall walking distance from the Pacific Ocean was our new home. Living on an island a block from one of the five best beaches in America offered us surf, fish, sunsets, sports, music, and many lasting friendships. Chip went out for varsity football at Coronado High School, while I attended Junior High. One day when I had finished gym class, I saw him in his uniform with shoulder pads bulging from a green and white Varsity Football Jersey and yellow pants. I could hardly believe my eyes. It made me proud to know he competed with the school’s best athletes. The sting of taunts and put-downs were lessened by his transformed image. “You look great in your football uniform,” I told him. He shrugged, knowing others players heard my comment and glanced at me, in a moment of acknowledgment before he raced off to practice. Hearing the sound of those cleats clickity clacking on cement was new for me, but one I would hear for many years. Chip raced out the locker room door as I noticed a slogan on the wall: “Quitters Never Win and Winners Never Quit.” On the spot, I vowed to never quit any sport. The slogan meant quitting is never an option. A winner must never give in to the temptation to quit, even when exhausted, injured, or losing. Neighbors who played on the varsity basketball team allowed me to shoot baskets with them nearby. They helped me polish moves I copied from them. The high school scoring leader, Robin Dean, lived around the corner. He put up a basketball net over a garage in our alley with enough space for a half-court game. Robin had a deadly accurate shot from almost anywhere. Outstanding players joined him, who taught me to shoot a jump shot and my set shot steadily improved. Eventually at these “pick up” games the experienced players selected me on their team, which boosted my spirits. When I finished my paper route, I often played touch or flag football with high school students in my neighborhood including Chip, John Strobane, and others in a neighbor’s large yard covered with ice weed across the street. Competing with high school athletes with my passes, runs, and punts was a new challenge. The ice weed left a stain on my jeans, but it acted like padding, so falling wasn’t dangerous. We lived so close to the Pacific Ocean, Chip and I regularly changed into swimming suits, took our towels, put on swim fins, and walked one-half block to the beach. We swam and body-surfed on the rolling waves that crashed onto the sandy shoreline at regular intervals. Catching a wave and riding it into the shore was another athletic endeavor with the wind whistling, the aroma of salt sea, and the force of the ocean behind our own swift swimming skill adding to the excitement. Sometimes the lifeguards put up a red danger flag to warn us that powerful surf made it too hazardous for swimmers. A rip tide could take a swimmer far out to sea. Swimming parallel to the shoreline allowed a swimmer to progress toward the shore against strong forces. One huge wave approached giving me pause but in no time it broke over me and made me tumble down a mountain of white water until my body hit bottom, knocked the breath out of me, scattered my fins away, and nearly drowned me. I staggered to my towel and rested before dragging my feet home with a new appreciation for the forces of nature.            One sunny Saturday, Chip and I pushed a yellow three man raft we purchased from the Army-Navy surplus store over powerful waves using our swim fins. We jumped into the raft to relax after the struggle to arrive beyond the wave line, reclined, and reveled in our comfort, feeling safe in a calm part of the Pacific Ocean about a hundred feet off shore. Reveling near the coastline, swimmers played in the surf and sunbathers rested on the sandy beach before the rocks separated by the street leading to the Coronado Hotel. This architectural wonder majestically rose into the sky with spires, white walls, red roofs, turrets, large glass windows with green awnings, tennis courts, long pier, patios, walkways, and tourists wandering by shops, outdoor walk-up bar, and marimba bands that sent rhythms of the Beach Boys, Harry Belafonte, and others wafting across offshore winds. Two dark fins cut through the calm water a few feet away bringing me out of my reverie. Sharks are surrounding us I thought. They could tip us over and attack in deep water beyond the waves where we’d drifted in a rip tide. “Chip, sharks have surrounded us,” I said. He scrutinized the danger and laughed, “Those are dolphins, silly.” Having assumed the worst from dark fins slashing through the water, I watched them with amazement as they gracefully moved through the water, traveled up and down in groups of three or more,  cavorted with one another, and swam off gracefully. Dad came home on a Friday night in March, “Boys how would you like to go on a grunion run?” “What’s a grunion run, Dad?”Chip said. “They’re small fish on the coast. March through August, many grunion swim out of the water to spawn in the sand with an incoming wave. The females dig tail first into the sand and deposit their eggs. Males fertilize them spraying semen nearby, then swim back while the females wait for the next wave.” “How big are grunion? I asked. “About five inches long. They “run” three or four nights after the new and full moon between 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.” “What should we bring to catch them?” Chip asked. “A flashlight and a bucket, but you can only use hands to catch them.” “Can you eat them?” I asked. “Yes, by breading and grilling, or frying them. Their bones are so fragile you can eat the whole fish during March, June, July, and August, but not in April and May, which are closed for fishing to allow them to produce enough for next season.”             We went grunion hunting that night at 10:00 p.m. in our bathing suits carrying our equipment. The moon shimmered on the incoming waves that drove water to glide rapidly over the gradual sloped sand until only an inch of water covered the wet moonlit sand. The incoming surf slowed and returned to the next wave. We didn’t see any grunion until 11:00 p.m. when we saw a few silvery flashes off their slender sides squirming on the wet sand after the wave receded. “Grunion send scouts to see if predator fish threaten the school. Don’t try to catch those. Wait ‘til the whole school runs or you could scare them from running here,” Dad said. We heard shouts from other hunters who didn’t care whether they caught scouts or not. They grabbed what few they found. We told them, “Those are scouts. Throw them back so the school will come in unaware we’re here.” They ignored us. We decided to go further down the beach. We walked to a quiet, darker, and unpopulated part of the beach. In twenty minutes, we saw grunion in the returning water from every wave in the wet sand flipping, squirming, and flashing. Many of the females had their tail dug into the sand while white semen from the males dotted the surf’s ebb and flow. I screamed with delight, “There’s one. Look at ‘em flipping.” “Grab ‘em and put ‘em in your bucket,” Chip said. When I spotted a group of grunion on outgoing water, I ran to catch them in my hands, but they slithered through my fingers. We counted nearly twenty in each bucket before the run ended. Dad made us throw back half the grunion as we had caught more than we could eat. We went home, washed off the sand, and changed clothes while Dad cooked up a batch. We devoured them, bones and all with a dab of tartar sauce, butter, and a root beer. A baseball coach from Coronado wanted to form a team for boys my age. The thought excited me. I showed up for a tryout with friends at the high school practice field. A tall man with a bag of bats, balls, and catcher’s equipment gathered us on benches at third base. “I’m interested in coaching a team of thirteen year-olds to compete in a league. I own a store in Coronado and plan to sponsor the team. Take positions for fielding and batting practice.” Twenty boys in baseball cleats, jeans, jerseys, caps, with gloves, signed his list and raced out to their favorite position. I took second base. The coach hit balls to each of the players and shouted, “Good throw,” “Nice pick-up,” and “Great catch” when players performed well. When he pitched batting practice to us he said, “Way to smash the ball,” “Good hit,” and “Way to drive the ball to the opposite field,” to our hitters. After two hours he said, “Men, gather on the bench.” That was the first time I heard “men” used by any coach referring to me. After three practices, he scheduled a game the next weekend, placed me at second base, and batted me lead-off. The first pitch I slammed for a triple off the center field fence. As I coasted into third base, the coach smiled, “Super hit, Danny. You missed a homer by a foot.” We took a lead against our opponents through the first three innings. A player hit a hot grounder that skipped up and hit me in my crotch. After I threw him out, I fell to the ground writhing in pain, became nauseous with no place to hide my agony, and heard laughing voices from a group of girls that turned my face into a bright tomato. Coach whispered to me, “Always wear a jock.” The players gathered after school before our next practice. A large athlete from our Boy Scout troop said, “My father wants us to quit the team because our coach is a communist. Some businessmen plan to run him out of town.” “He ran a good practice and would help us win games. We should never quit,” I said. “Communists are evil, won’t salute the flag, and don’t believe in God. Like many he’s also a Jew. My dad says the FBI knows.” I loved Boy Scouts, enjoyed marching with them in formations in a scout uniform, and was patriotic, but I didn’t want to quit a baseball team. To quit because we had what someone thought was a communist and an unpatriotic coach might be right if true, but because he was a Jew was wrong. “Jesus was a Jew. Don’t criticize anyone for their religion,” I said. “You don’t know shit, Lavery. The Jews killed Jesus after Judas betrayed him.” Another player said, “I heard the same thing from another kid.” The Scout said, “Let’s have a show of hands. How many want to quit?” After the leaders shot their hands in the sky, most raised their hands and walked away. Quitting a baseball team because someone suspected the coach was a communist didn’t feel right. They made a special exception when an athlete can quit.

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