Facing global warming with fishy, finny thoughts

By SCOTT SAALMAN
Guest Columnist

My future bride and I were lost in the jungle of The Gaylord Opryland Resort, a luxury-hotel behemoth that includes nine acres of tropical plants, trees, waterways and waterfalls—all indoors.

We grew weary (nay, grouchy) trying to find our room, one of 2,888 somewhere out there on the edges of our rainforest-in-a-dome destination. The cordial check-in woman verbalized our room’s location, but anytime anyone gives me directions to anywhere, all I really hear is “mwa-mwa-mwa.” I never did find the Empire State Building when walking Manhattan, by the way.

The resort is so expansive it has zones: Cascades, Garden Conservatory, Delta. Our room was in Magnolia, wherever that was. Heart of Darkness would be a more fitting name.

With each wrong turn; with each miscalculated footstep—often a flip-flop flew missile-like off a foot due to walking too closely to each other (Brynne calls this “flipping your flop”)—; and with each erroneous direction on stairways and elevator chutes, our faces grew flusher, our foreheads damper. We saw waterfalls and trees previously passed, as if going in circles. Though we packed lightly, our travel bags became leaden. We wished for pack mules.

Our temperaments were finally tested as soon-to-be newlyweds. During our blissful, two-year courtship, there was never an “issue,” no contrariness to our compatibility. But I sensed a change. Where once her eyes contained the calming hues of Caribbean waters, there now boiled a fury of Vesuvius lava within her irises as I stubbornly insisted on guiding (nay, misguiding) us to our elusive room, it’s existence as improbable as The Lost City of Z. But, oh, those feverish, raging, bugged-out eyes before me. Brynne looked dangerous, as if deep inside her purse one might find a garrote or blowgun with poison darts, causing me to pause, worry and wonder, “How well do I really know this woman I’m to marry? How do I even dare close my eyes to sleep?” Brynne finally declared mutiny, took control of our expedition. We found our room within five minutes.

We were in Nashville to see guitar god Carlos Santana bring his Global Consciousness Tour to the nearby Grand Ole Opry stage. Santana’s ability to go beyond musical, cultural and geographical boundaries, combined with our overnight stay among the ecological wonders of the resort, seemed like the perfect Earth Day 2019 thing to do.

The older I get, the more conscious I’ve become about our earth’s condition. Now, when I hear Santana sing, “You’ve got to change your evil ways, baby,” the song’s true meaning has morphed into something totally different from the songwriter’s intent. It is a mantra guiding me to better citizenship. My mea culpa to Mother Earth.

On Earth Day 2018, I banned plastic water bottles from my home, ending years of personal planet abuse. I imagined a plastic mountain with my name on it, the landform equivalent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Videos of melting glaciers haunted me to the point that the contents in plastic water bottles reminded me of iceberg tears.

Brynne and I recently binged Netflix’s “Our Planet,” which contains the most jaw-dropping, beautiful nature footage I’ve ever seen and details the cause and effect of global warming in simplistic, non-political terms.

While in Cozumel earlier this year, it was encouraging to learn that plastic drinking straws are banned to protect sea turtles and other marine life. I was equally pleased to see a child’s artwork attached to the counter at Greek’s Pizzeria in Fishers, Ind., advising customers to “Skip the Straw” to save turtles. Kudos to the teacher who encouraged this earth-conscious class project. Such simple everyday earth acts inspire. At drive-through windows, I now give the straw back and shout “Save The Turtles!” I bought a metal, telescopic, pocket straw from Chocolate Bliss for Brynne to reuse.

Even my dad attempted to save a turtle recently. He safely drove around it, stopped, backed up to help—only to hear a tragic crunch beneath the full weight of his rear tire. At least he tried. Long ago when he exited Wendy’s during a family vacation, an old woman collapsed just in front of him on the sidewalk. Dad, ever weary of pickpockets when outside Tell City, simply stepped over her, as if the frail woman might actually be part of some elaborate pickpocket scheme. We followed dad’s lead, stepped over the body too, one by one, and then quicker than you can ask “Where’s the Beef?” we were safely inside our car, our billfolds intact. In hindsight, it’s probably best for the elderly woman that dad hadn’t tried helping her.

In Cozumel, I snorkeled (my first time), finding myself lost within a vibrant color spectrum of tropical fish dodging my touch, easily ranking as my most meaningful Earth moment. This memory is my happy place of escape when stressed.

An endearing trait about Brynne is her empathy for elephants. She emulates their strength, wisdom and patience. Last Valentine’s Day, I donated money to an elephant sanctuary on her behalf, making up, perhaps, for the time I took her to our county museum during her first visit to Jasper. Imagine the dismay when we encountered that ghastly display of chopped-off elephant feet in the unsettling safari room, the elephant felled by a local safarist. I still boil from unwittingly giving Brynne a local peek into global unconsciousness.

Fishy finny thoughts, Scott, finny fishy thoughts.




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