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Shelby Graham

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Jean Walton Wolff

Why Sea Stars Rule the World

I went down to the beach the day of the inauguration for comfort, inspiration and hope.  The ocean was stormy and upset, with brown milk chocolate waves charging to the cold beach. At first I thought Mother Ocean was as afraid and angry as the rest of us at this election, but after a while of standing there taking in the fresh salt air, I 'felt' the ocean say, "Don't be ridiculous. We're not afraid of that lunatic clown you elected, or any other person.  We, your nature neighbors, have been on this planet a long, long time before you people showed up, and we will be here long after you have left. So yes, we are annoyed with how you could be much better stewards of your beautiful planet, but we're not afraid of anyone or the chaos they are going to try to institute. So go do what you can do," Mother Ocean continued. "Go make yourself useful, help people, stay informed and involved, help the planet, write checks, reach out, speak out. But do not be afraid, and do not be discouraged."  Well, that helped. I am following her advice. Come to nature for comfort from the foibles and follies of mankind.  The beach is a great comforter these days of uncertainty.

Seacliff State Beach, aka the cement ship beach, is a beautiful place for long walks where the beach curves around the Monterey Bay for miles.  I call this place the cathedral, it is so magnificent and open. Recent winter storms broke apart the cement ship at the end of the wharf even more, so now the ship can be thought of as the wonderful-pile-of-cement-chunks formerly known as a ship.

The sign at the visitors' center describes the ship as, after having failed at every incarnation it was intended for - war ship, dance hall, amusement park - it has found its true place in old age as a magnificent haven for other ocean species, and a welcoming place for visitors.  Things are not always the way they seem, or how they started out.

The Seacliff Visitors' Center is full of souvenir doo-dads and has a tiny museum. If I ever get married in this life time or any other, that little gift shop would be the place to be registered for all your important items like sand dollar theme socks, ocean coffee mugs and sweatshirts extolling the virtues of our state parks. But my favorite thing they sell is a little bookmark with photos of sea stars - or what used to be called starfish because, well, they're not fish.  The back of the sea star bookmark describes the sea stars with:

"No eyes, no brain, no problem!" But it gets better. The sea stars walk around, okay slowly, on hundreds of tiny feet. These wonderful sea creatures are 450 million years old. If sea stars lose a limb they can simply re-grow another.  But it gets even better. A severed sea star's limb can re-grow an entire  new body! 

These sea stars are wonderfully resilient. Talk about hope. They are sturdy and have withstood the test of time. They were 380 million years old when the Grand Canyon was formed, for crying out loud. They have been here long before us humans, and will be here long after we're gone, assuming they can survive us. Which they will. Even with "no eyes, no brains, no problem," the sea stars outdo us in so many ways with their remarkable, innate divine intelligence that rivals ours.  They are creative. Adaptable. Humble. Very unassuming.  Sea stars are patient. And quiet! They do not take more than their fair share. They do not discard plastics into the sea. They do not pollute.  They do not start wars. And they do not elect orange-haired unqualified maniacs to run their world.  The sea stars, and the rest of patient nature, witness our painfully slow development with a grace and patience that boggles the mind. I'm surprised a whole army of sea stars, or other  creatures, hasn't simply risen up and done away with us. 

Blessed are the sea stars, for they shall rule the world.

And so for these and many other reasons, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I therefore conclude, that sea stars do indeed - or at least should - rule the world!

Jean Walton Wolff is a graduate of the University of California and an award-winning writer and poet whose work has appeared in several publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury, West Magazine, Storming Heaven's Gate, Porter Gulch Review and on NPR.  She is the founder of Community Writers of Santa Cruz.  She is honored to be part of this year's Celebration of the Muse. The piece she is reading, "Why Sea Stars Rule the World," is a seaside musing on the recent election, the healing power of nature, and why sea stars do indeed rule the world.

In Celebration of the Muse
Jean Walton Wolff
Patrice Vecchione
Dena Taylor
Lisa Simon
Dee Roe
Joanna Martin
Cindy Knoebel
Rosie King
Helene Simkin Jara
Kate Hitt
Clifford Henderson
Carolyn Brigit Flynn
Sigrid Erro
Margaret Brose
Carol Brendsel
Barbara Bloom

Featured Artist
Shelby Graham


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