In this two-parted blog post, I make an attempt to capture the poetic aspect of tuning-in to the salamander migration, and then follow that with an essay conveying my frustration at being unable to get great video footage, and the impact of that frustration on keeping the dream alive:
Sometimes it is easy to kiss the earth, especially during the spring of the year. Humans everywhere experience the joy and renewal of the great unfolding, when flowers explode upon the scene and bird song greets the day. The earth calls out in color and sound, demanding our attention and praise.
The Spotted Salamander migration, however, encourages a deeper communion, an immersion in the chilling wetness of the night, an appreciation of a silent yet extraordinary primeval dance that is easily overlooked. To experience it requires a refined attunement, a cultivated anticipation, an irrepressible willingness to wade into the muck to touch the primal source.
I am certainly uplifted by the songs of birds and the colorful flowers, but the salamander migration digs deeper into my soul. It ignites my spirit with a special kind of creative fire. It is a uniquely remarkable natural event – a sudden expression of earthbound creatures that rise out of the soiled depths, and then march overland to vernal pools to partake in the love dance that insures the survival of their kind.
If you want to feel connected to the earth, then follow the salamander trail. Get down on your hands and knees, wade into the muck, and experience for yourself this secretive amphibious rite of spring … you will not be disappointed.
© Lang Elliott, 7 April 2014
Last night, I chased after salamanders until the wee hours of the morning. I was looking for the “ultimate vernal pool,” with crystal-clear water and the mother of all salamander tangles. I ran here and there, back and forth, from this pool to that pool, until I collapsed from exhaustion at 5am. I never found the ultimate pool and I didn’t get any good video footage at all. Nada! Nothing good at all!
On a positive note, I saw LOTS of salamanders, mostly spotties, ambling through the forest or partially hidden under leaves in pools. I even found two mating congresses, but both dispersed before I was able to get my video equipment set up. When my adventure finally came to end, I had little to show for it, at least in terms of high-quality media fit to share with the world.
This left me frustrated … not only was I skunked by the salamanders, but the ordeal put to test my faith in my dream.
So … let me briefly share my frustrations with you. Let me share my personal challenge of trying to keep the Miracle of Nature idea alive in my mind, as the realities and limitations of earthly endeavors inevitably take their toll.
So many questions roll about in my mind. Will I be able to pull this off? Will I be able to create a viable and sustainable non-profit that has clear goals and a unique identity and footprint? Will I be able to collect and publish enough compelling content that I’m able to demonstrate the overall idea (= the dream) and show how powerfully it conveys the miraculous quality of the natural world?
Furthermore, will I be able to raise enough money to make it work? Right now, I’m basically paying for it all, which is un-sustainable. We’ve had a few small voluntary donations, but that doesn’t turn the wheel. Admittedly, I’ve never done any fundraising … so is it realistic to expect I can draw-in enough money to make our goals possible to reach?
As director of Miracle of Nature, I am wearing many hats. I’m visioning, content-collecting, writing, designing, and publishing. I’m the web master, the financier, and the accountant … you name it … that’s me! Aside from the generous help Wil Hershberger, Beth Bannister, and a few others, it is a one-man-show. If something were to happen to me now, I suspect Miracle of Nature would quickly go down the drain. So let’s hope I’m around long enough to birth this Miracle into existence, with a clear vision, paid staff, and a solid future.
Spiritually-speaking, Miracle of Nature appears to be my calling, my most important “work in the world.” For better or for worse, I’m married to the idea of it, to the dream of birthing it as a non-profit, and I am committed to giving it my all.
Lang Elliott, Director
Miracle of Nature
8 April 2014