It's My Turn
The following article and poem were written for Bernard Blum, local environmentalist, from his family and fellow environmental stewards: Elliott Blum and Family; Anna Horowitz, Environmental Science Instructor, and son, Adam; Teacher Bruce Seltzer and the two environmental classes of Queens High School For The Sciences at York College.
Bernard Blum, founder of "Friends of Rockaway" and a fellow steward of the Jamaica Bay Task Force, always delivered a proactive approach to his listeners and readers. Blum studied marine biology on the graduate level at Long Island University. However, his high school training, at The High School of Music and Art, would eventually spill into his literary and artistic features, which eventually would make him our local environmentalist. For example, though he wrote numerous and comprehensive environmental columns in The Wave called "Sticks and Stones," his linguistic, artistic attributes and love for his audience served to only enhance his articles and arguments (some covered on QPTV) in this vital interdisciplinary field known as Environmental Science.
Blum supported Education by presenting environmental slide shows and discussions to our small circle of friends after all of us got together for dinner. In one of my last conversations with him, he had emphasized the important role of education in preserving and conserving our environment. Recently, he brought to my attention a program called "Estuary Live 2006 Virtual Field Trip" described in one of his subscriptions, The Tidal Exchange . Subsequently, my fellow colleague, Bruce Seltzer, and myself, enthusiastically and immediately enrolled our environmental high school students in that program. By infusing technology into the classroom, our students were able to take a virtual field trip, broadcasted live across the nation, to Jamaica Bay Estuary and then to the South Slough Reserve in Oregon - a very unique and interactive experience!
I was not able to share with Bernard the results or even thank him since he had passed away early the next morning, Saturday, September 30, "National Estuaries Day." This day is observed nationally by fellow stewards, within our schools and science communities, and falls on the last Saturday in September.
The following poem was written for Bernard Blum.
To My Family, Fellow Stewards, Educators, and the Rockaway Community:
Do not cry for me, I am at peace, if only you could see,
The clouds up here are clear and free of adversaries like CO and PCB,
Free of human activities that upset the natural rhythm of elements,
Even sounds, like music, resonate as if by dozens of instruments.
Do not feel sad for me, since I can glide endlessly on my toes,
Floating on a raindrop in front of the sun, along with others in their rows,
Forming, at last, a rainbow for you to wonder in awe,
No need here to seek out environmental intervention and the law.
Good wisdom, simple, righteous, peaceful manners dominant this place,
A harmony, a balance, that goes way beyond simply restoring Earth's old face,
No need, anymore from here, to treat the problems of global warming,
Warm ocean waters, beach erosion, salty marshes disappearing.
Offsetting the salinity of our estuaries, while freshwater melts off ice caps,
Disturbing the natural mix of so many brackish watersheds on our maps,
Not to mention the poor toads that need to breed in small puddles,
Finding that water levels are now way over their heads in enormous bundles.
I am at peace my family, stewards, educators, community and members of my shul,
Here, please...hand over to your students and children all these environmental tools,
I left behind for you to use and if, perchance, you ever have a question to ask,
Listen to the call of the wild, instead of, merely, pulling answers from your flask.
Do say "hello" from time to time, I might reply with a rippled wave one day,
As you transmit a kind thought by throwing a gentle pebble in the estuary or bay,
My friends, you and I are two faces of the same world, far bigger than this rock, Earth.
In the eyes of God, we are of the same cloth shielded under his never ceasing hearth.