In the 70s, we’d pack up early in the morning to drive to Galveston, meeting our next-door neighbors on a west end beach. We’d cook breakfast over a fire—Uncle Marty cooking scrambled eggs and bacon in a cast-iron skillet, serving it to us with cantaloupe, salted once by him and once by the spray from the Gulf of Mexico.
I think of the Gulf as a starter ocean, perfect for kids. Gentle waves, tepid temperature, nothing terribly dramatic.
Some days, the water shines blue or green, but the color that stands out in my memory is a café con leche brown.
Sure, we got the occasional jelly fish, but they were nothing like the brutal, iridescent Portuguese man-o-wars that stung so violently when I smacked up against them in the roiling surf of the Jersey shore.
I took a delegation down to Galveston to escape, for a day, from the Republican National Convention in 1992. Pro-choice New England Republicans accustomed to the bracing Atlantic that smacks down relentlessly on the flinty coast of Maine, they were horrified at the first sight of the beach.
Then, we got in the water. We floated without any worries of going too far, too fast. The warm waters leached out the tension and defensiveness, and we returned to Houston at the end of the day more refreshed than anyone would have expected. Too bad we couldn’t have dunked a few of the more hostile GOP candidates that day.
My dad and others have told me that the Gulf’s brown water is the result of runoff from the mighty Mississip. Silt flowing through the Delta, into the Gulf, then swirling down the Texas coast to Galveston.
I’m sure that Mississippi dirt, if that’s really what makes the Galveston water so brown, has carried plenty of chemicals and toxins over the years. But I’m also sure that it has never had to cope with the quantity of pollutants now being ejaculated from the BP spill.
What color will my beautiful Gulf be once the well has disgorged the last gobs of oil? What color will it be when the marine life expires, oxygen-deprived and oil-coated?
I read an article that compared the viscosity of the plumes of oil now floating through the Gulf to salad dressing. I fear our coast will very soon look like a salad you find in your fridge, soggy in a sad little styrofoam container, too many days after a lovely dinner out.
Several times in recent days, I’ve found myself motoring about in what Duane Bradley so perfectly calls the Petro-Metro, crying as I realize the enormity of the spill, and the futility of any action I could take in response.
What can we do? If we stood outside of BP’s office out west, near the reservoir, shaking pitchforks and demanding justice, would it stop the flow? Would it lead to any accountability?
I get so angry every time I see a headline that says “BP isn’t giving up yet.” NO KIDDING. Giving up is NOT AN OPTION. This is our Gulf of Mexico they’re talking about. Giving up isn’t an option at all. Ever.