We’re fascinated with outer space, but there’s a place on earth that’s just as alien — and just as mysterious. It’s the bottom of the ocean, and Sylvia Earle has walked there:
"[I walked] on the bottom, two and a half hours, and I later spoke with an astronaut friend, Buzz Aldrin, and he said, ‘Well, that’s about as long as we had to walk on the moon, two and a half hours.’ But what they did not have on the moon, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong and those who came later, they didn’t have just this avalanche of life, this great diversity all around. Everywhere you looked, there were little fish with lights down the side. Of course, the corals themselves are alive. There were little burrows of creatures that were dwelling in the sediments on the sea floor. The water itself is like minestrone, except all the little bits are alive."
And that life of the ocean sustains all life on earth. Sylvia Earle takes us there with singular urgency and passion.
Sylvia Earle Walks Us Along the Ocean Floor
by Susan Leem, associate producer
The pioneering oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle during her interview with Krista Tippett describes walking on the ocean floor, more than a quarter of a mile beneath the surface where light can scarcely reach:
"The first experience is going through the sunlit area and into the twilight zone where sunlight fades and darkness begins to take over. It’s like the deepest twilight, or earliest dawn."
A beautifully told narrative of bamboo corals and coral reefs as seen by one who has been there.
About the photo: Sylvia Earle descends into the darkness, trekking with this “Jim” suit as her only protection from hundreds of pounds of pressure per square inch created by being a quarter-mile under from the ocean’s surface.
"Good things come from a quiet place: study, prayer, music, transformation, worship, communion. The words ‘peace’ and ‘quiet’ are all but synonymous, and are often spoken in the same breath. A quiet place is the think tank of the soul, the spawning ground of truth and beauty.
A quiet place outdoors has no physical borders or limits to perception. One can commonly hear for miles and listen even farther. A quiet place affords a sanctuary for the soul, where the difference between right and wrong becomes more readily apparent. It is a place to feel the love that connects all things, large and small, human and not; a place where presence of a tree can be heard. A quiet place is a place to open up all your senses and come alive.”
—Gordon Hempton, from One Square Inch of Silence
About the photo: Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park by Eden Politte/Flickr, cc by-nc 2.0
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
This is really magical. For a 42-year-old former wrestler growing up in a landlocked state and now producing a public radio program (sitting in a cube in front of a screen most days), I admire how he’s been able to meld his family life with his professional life — and do it outdoors. And that he talks about how it grounds him is refreshing.
What an amazing way to raise a family. Can you imagine?
An Image We Loved That Didn’t Make the Cut
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Searching for a lead image for our show “The Far Shore of Aging” with Jane Gross, I happened upon this fabulous photograph titled “Late adventures at Arco de São Jorge.” The dynamic nature of the composition of elderly people walking in the surf coupled with the saturated colors is exquisite. And the juxtaposition of a vibrant, healthy couple navigating the rocky shores with the need of a balancing stick illustrates their vitality and fragility all at once. Oh, and don’t you just love that splash of red of the lady’s bathing suit!
Nevertheless, I decided against using this photo because it was too “easy” for our purposes. This photo would’ve represented more of an idea rather than the grounded intimacy of an aging, fully sentient human being. Here, we’re looking at their backs, but we never see their faces, which perhaps compels us to think of far-off ideas and themes. All quite lovely, but, as it relates the subject matter of Krista’s conversation with Jane Gross, too abstract.
I wanted the viewer to embrace the face and the eyes, the deep intimacy of a person who is not one of the “elderly” but an individual who remains vibrant and changing, that individual’s relationship to the caregiver, and a sense of the caregiver’s pain and love, frustration and anger.
(photo: alex@Tlön/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sunset on Sanibel
Trent Gilliss, online editor
Even as Spring renews Minnesotans’ spirits and the frozen ground begins to sigh, it’s a pleasure receiving this idyllic photo from a beloved colleague who is on holiday after facing a challenging Winter. And she’s not even checking her e-mail. Yeah!
And, yes, for those of us remaining behind, that vast swath of ocean bearing the silent thunder of its motion off the Florida coast looks absolutely enchanting.
(photo: Kate Moos)