There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Monday, May 17, 2010

oil and water

THE  IDIOM "oil and water don't mix" is a way of saying two beings or characteristics don't go together. So true in many ways with the ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil spill—literally and figuratively. The Gulf Coast beaches of Alabama and Florida have long been a late spring and summer getaway of mine since college. I go there for the pristine beauty—the clear emerald/blue water, the rejuvenating salty breezes so deftly maneuvered by calling seagulls, and the pristine white sands. All this has lulled me time-and-again to a paradise that is irreplaceable. I haven't visited in a few years, but now the Gulf beaches are threatened with an environmental disaster of crisis proportions. The damage has already been done in the ocean. Already endangered sea turtles and other marine creatures are dying and washing ashore. The shellfish population can't swim away from the spill and could be wiped out for a generation or more because they are poisoned by the oil (this decimates one of the largest populations of shellfish in the world). Our dolphin friends and other seafaring mammals are coming up to the surface of the water for a breath of what? Oil? 

WHAT  A  PARABLE  this has become. When the Deep Water Horizon oil rig exploded, eleven people (oil rig workers) were killed and the site is still spewing oil into the water which has reached shore in Louisiana and Mississippi, threatening one of the richest wildlife areas of the world. And this is not the beginning. There are oil spills all over the world. This one just happens to be in my "backyard." Look at the ever growing list of (major) oil spills here.

FOR  THOSE  OF  US  who consider our relationship with the natural world as something sacred, we have reached a point of no return—a point where we consider just how sacred it is to us. We are all complicit in the civilization we have created, whether it is having out-of-season produce shipped to us from continents far away or driving our cars to work. Our planet is in distress because of our actions—human actions—and the other inhabitants of this Earth, who we call "wildlife," are left unwittingly to the destruction and havoc we have wrought. At what point do the economics of a situation not matter? At what point do we shift into a collaboration with Mother Earth, instead of a war with her? We, as humans do not hold dominion over the natural world, except in its destruction.

THE  BEACH-INSPIRED  TREE  above was planned for a later post as purely a celebration of the beautiful beaches of the Emerald Coast I hold so dearly in my memory, but now it has become a poignant reminder. It has become an urgent call to find alternative sources of energy—to "think globally" and "act locally." I am truly at a loss for more words about how I feel about this. Words are no longer enough. We must really hold sacred our relationship with nature. It is lamentable that it has come to our own survival to force our hand.

BEACHED TREE | (Above, top) This "tree" is entirely fabricated and made from wire, rubberized plastic (a petroleum product), fabric leaves and who knows what else; is from Pottery Barn Kids (and is entirely unsustainable). But the decorations are mostly made from metal wire, willow, glass, starfish and natural shells (the jewels of the sea). It is held in a container from the defunct Smith and Hawken. The blue/teal pot was found at Marshalls. The silver starfish is made from polymer resin (another petroleum product) and is from Ross. The fisherman's floats (from Pottery Barn) are a reminder of what a struggle fishermen will have because of the spill for years to come.

COLLECTED  TREASURES | (Above, right) Seashells are the jewels of the sea as well as the  sea glass (see below), along with seeds, pods and other natural items are ironically the basis for this season's decorative trends . . . evident in many stores like Pottery Barn, West Elm and Anthropologie. The bag holding part of what I "collected" is made from brown plastic netting (a petroleum product). The round mat is woven of dyed paper "grass" from the 2005 Contemporary Home Collection at Target. Last, but certainly not least, a gorgeous porcelain ceramic bowl (interior is glazed a light teal color) is entirely handmade by local potter named Cara Gilbert.

THIS  WAY  TO  THE  BEACH | (Above) Assembled with wire, most of the ornaments are made from shells, starfish, glass beads and tumbled "sea glass." Sea glass actually tumbled and worn smooth by the sea is harder to find than what you usually see sold in bags in the market. It is a poignant re-offering of glass litter that ends up in the sea, and only one way nature has recycled some of our trash to remind us of the beauty and importance of our coexistence with it.

photography and styling by Darryl Moland

Many of us have been wringing our hands. Cursing. Pacing. And praying about what’s happening to our beloved Gulf Coast. Wishing we could just do something.

This is the something a few friends and I decided to do (below).

These stickers will help spread the word. After all, the coast belongs to all of us. Blame, fury and responsibility do too.

My friends and I hope that this sticker will represent all of us as a people united by heartbreak—as well as determination.

And we hope the dollars collected and contributed will help rescue, rebuild. And restore.

It’s a drop in the ocean. 
But it’s something. 

CRUDE AWAKENING | It's CRUDE how our oceans  and our coastlines have been treated by Big Oil (ultimately, the mirror reflects back to all of us as long as we're not moving to change our dependence on oil). Buy 5 stickers for $10 and we'll donate a minimum of 50% to Gulf Coast restoration efforts. Or look to our site for at least 4 ways to contribute your time and effort to care 4 our coast. All here.


  1. Thank you for posting this Darryl....Your words certainly strike a cord with me, and I too am so very saddened by what mankind has foolishly done to our natural world. The thought of the devastation these oil spills have had on our plant and animal friends just makes me ill. I certainly hope that his disaster close to home will wake us up and help put a stop to the greed.........

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your beautiful sea-themed photography.....

    ~ Johanna

  2. wonderful post and tree. your affinity for the sea is palpable in the art and your writing. my heart is broken but like you have observed we have seen the enemy and it is us. very sad. what to do though? google the list of things made with petroleum. and the amount of oil that has gushed so far would only power the USA for a day and a half. insane!