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Member since: Sun Sep 14, 2003, 03:27 PM
Number of posts: 8,055

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The Moment When You Realize Violence Is Not The Answer

The Blue Ether of Another World

Once you could sit in a boat right over the spring source, hemisphere of sky above, hemisphere of water below, and it would be as if you hung suspended between the elements inside a perfect globe of morning-glory blue. Once the boat would have been glass-bottomed: you would have watched manatees and mullets swim beneath your feet, and, still farther down, lying on a ledge, the visible bones of a mastodon that died twelve thousand years ago when Florida was still young. Or, if you were a kid or silly (or both), you’d climb up the diving tower and jackknife into the springs, your body plunging down into the depths of limpid turquoise....

Once, but not now, not anymore. On a rare good day, you can still make out a gar or a Suwannee cooter swimming just under the surface. But the sugar-white sand on the spring bed is now carpeted with khaki-colored algae—when you can see it. Fifteen years ago the water was clear as gin; these days it’s a sullen gray-brown. Wakulla’s not alone; most of Florida’s great springs are sick. Silver Springs, Rainbow Springs, Ichetucknee Springs, Wekiwa, Santa Fe, Kings Bay, Ponce de Leon, Chassahowitzka, Homosassa, Lithia, Volusia Blue—of our one thousand artesian springs, an estimated 60 percent are what the hydrologists call “impaired,” polluted by agricultural waste, human waste, the tons of Miracle-Gro we dump on our lawns, trying to make our grass as green as Ireland....

Silver Springs remained like this for another hundred-plus years. In the 1960s, before Disney colonized Central Florida, a million visitors a year descended to marvel at the water, the alligators sunning themselves on cypress logs, ibis, egrets, great blue herons, ospreys, and the lush tangle of candy-toned wildflowers. Weeki Wachee Springs became famous for girls in zip-up fishtails performing arabesques under water; Rainbow Springs was renowned for its peacock-hued waters. At Homosassa Springs, tourists came to watch schools of mangrove snappers, eels, and cooters swim with the manatees while roseate spoonbills landed on the shore and black bears and white-tailed deer made shy appearances from the deep woods....

The electric river cruiser—named Limpkin, as it happens—circled the springs. The driver told us that it had been eight years since the water was clear enough to run a glass-bottomed boat. I looked hard into the place, more or less, where the vent boils up 250 million gallons of water a day. The springs used to be a kind of magic mirror, in which you could see past, present, and future. Now the mirror is clouded. Down there lies limerock formed from the skeletons of fish and coral that began to ossify when Florida slept submerged in shallow water, one hundred million years ago, a geologic history that reaches back to the ur-continent Pangea. Down there in the spring, our present reproaches us. We’re fouling the water that gives us life. If we don’t stop, we’ll destroy Florida. Our marshes and wetlands, filtration systems for storm water, will collapse. Our beaches and rivers will stink of dead fish. If the fish die, the birds leave. If we take too much fresh water from the limestone aquifer, the ancient ocean of salt water that lies under it will invade our drinking water. That will be the end. We will have to give Florida back to the sea whence it came.



Akram Khan and Tamara Rojo teamed up to perform Dust as part of English National Ballet’s production Lest We Forget, which commemorates the centenary of the First World War. Akram Khan’s work Dust is about the empowerment of women in the war, especially as they became the main workforce in the country.

Akram said: “The piece is inspired by two things. First, the concept of a trench, of the young men and old men all going into trenches, and disappearing. The other substantial part was inspired by the women. In WW1 there was a huge social shift towards women. They needed weapons made for the war, they needed a huge workforce. I felt this shift in role was interesting. They knew they would be letting go of fathers, husbands, and sons; they might lose them. Yet they were making weapons that would kill others’ fathers, husbands, and sons. It didn’t matter which side you were on – they both felt loss and death. But in order for someone to live someone else was putting their life on the line. That cyclical thing was what I wanted to explore.

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