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Michelle Close Mills

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A Love Realized
By Michelle Close Mills
Friday, April 30, 2010

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Recent stories by Michelle Close Mills
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           >> View all 44

There's no place like home...

Last week something happened in the Gulf of Mexico; something we’re all too aware of.


An explosion and oil…lots of oil, leaking 5,000 barrels per day into waters inhabited by an assortment of wildlife; birds, otters, manatees, reptiles, dolphins, whales, fish, shrimp, oysters, crawfish.


I remember when this happened in Alaska with the Exxon Valdez spill. The photos of the oil soaked animals and birds. Heart wrenching…but far away from us.


Now the spill is very close to our backyard, and actually in our neighbor’s yard.


The pictures are beginning to trickle out of the Louisiana delta…seabirds soaked in oil, frightened, and sick from ingesting what amounts to greasy poison, as avian workers try to save their lives.


I’ve always been an animal lover, and a great admirer of Florida birds. There’s nothing more thrilling to me than hearing a mockingbird’s song as the sun sets, watching a pelican swoop to the water’s edge and skillfully scoop up a mullet. And the heron; one of the most relaxing and beautiful birds there is. They’re slow, methodic, graceful, and can scare the crap out of my cat Simon by simply walking by our screened in porch. (We live behind a pond.)


For many years I didn’t love Florida. In fact I hated it. Although I grew up here, I dreamed of returning to Indiana where we’d find a quaint farmhouse to fix up, and I’d rock the afternoon away reading, writing and enjoying country life from a porch swing.


I finally got my chance. In a fit of marital discord, I fled to my birth state in 2008 (with the cat). I got a job, tried to get a life, and tried to make sense of the one I left behind.


I had a long, icy colder than heck winter to do exactly that.


With every snowfall, I longed to return to the land of mangroves, swamps, lakes, southern oaks draped in moss; and the Gulf with its blue-green water.


Most of all I wanted my family.


So in 2009, Simon and I came back. From the time we crossed the state line, I saw Florida with very different eyes. The places once regarded with disdain were precious. My husband and daughter were precious, my friends were precious. With the joy of a lottery winner, I grabbed back what I lost, what WE lost, and put life back where it needed to be. I began a new life appreciating our old life, in the home of my heart…Florida.


Now we who live here are facing the biggest crisis this state has ever seen, and may lose what makes Florida a special place to live, work, visit, and enjoy.


Because of rampant greed and blatant federal oversight, the spewing leak in the Gulf may not only destroy the Louisiana delta, but hundreds of miles of coastline. It could affect our Tampa Bay area beaches, the delicate coral reefs of Key West, and beyond.


The potential devastation boggles the mind, and breaks my heart.


I’m certain that I’m not alone.


A simple remote cut off costing about six million dollars per rig, and a mere drop in the bucket for oil companies like British Petroleum could have stopped this chaotic mess before it had a chance to get out of hand.


This disaster is what conservationists have been hollering about, petitioning about, protesting about, and lobbying about for years. Their worst fears have finally come to pass.


Since I heard about all of this, I’ve been vacillating between anger, rage, grief, tears. I’ve been an emotional basket case ever since I heard the well was leaking. 


I finally realized why.


I’m in love with Florida.  


My father understood what that was like. He was stationed in West Palm Beach at the end of the Korean War and couldn’t bear to leave and return to Indiana after his stint in the Air Force was over. He relocated us here, against our wishes.


Now I’m so glad he did.


I’ve started a collection drive at work and on Facebook trying to round up a truck load of supplies needed for the relief effort:


  • Dawn dish washing liquid,
  • Pepto Bismol for upset bird tummies after ingesting oil,
  • Toothpaste (not sure what that’s for),
  • Laundry detergent,
  • Old towels, old blankets,
  • Rubber gloves…


All are on the wish list of our local bird rescue, the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. I plan to volunteer when the time comes, to shuttle birds, supplies, do whatever I’m physically able to do.


 As the old saying goes “When the going gets tough, the tough get busy.”


And I guess it’s better to turn pissed off into proactive. What’s done is done.


There are birds and critters to save, politicians to write, petitions to sign, and a November election to vote in.


I’m ready.


Florida is worth fighting for.




Michelle Close Mills ©




       Web Site: Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary

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Reviewed by Jean Pike 5/2/2010
A beautiflly written piece, Michelle, but oh so hard to read. It breaks my heart, also. Thank you for your openness, and for the reminder. God bless you in your work.
Reviewed by Regis Auffray 4/30/2010
Because of rampant greed and blatant federal oversight, the spewing leak in the Gulf may not only destroy the Louisiana delta, but hundreds of miles of coastline. It could affect our Tampa Bay area beaches, the delicate coral reefs of Key West, and beyond.

I completely understand and empathize with your situation, Michelle. I spent five years fighting Shell, Esso, and Chevron here over their polluting of the local water courses. The government here has been hinting about allowing oil drilling on the coast. This is insanity! Thank you for fighting the good fight my friend. Love and best wishes,

Reviewed by Chanti Niven 4/30/2010
My dear friend. Your wonderful gift of expression is put to such good use here. You've shared so openly, honestly and sincerely and your love is so apparent to all who read. I applaud you for taking action and pray that all your efforts are rewarded. May every person who reads this get involved in some way. Every little bit counts.
Hugs and loads of love Chanti
Reviewed by RM Green 4/30/2010
I am so happy that you have come to terms with the love of your life.. the beloved state of Florida!! I pray that this disastrous oil spill does not ruin the very thing we should cherish the most, pristine waters and the precious wildlife the sea and climate sustains.

Thank you for a story full of grace and charm... and WARNING!! May nature, in all its beauty, live on...
Reviewed by Janet Caldwell 4/30/2010
Right on!!! x

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