Phillips: Some thoughts about a treasure under siege

Phillips: Some thoughts about a treasure under siege

August 28th, 2010 by Ellen Phillips in Business Ellen Phillips

More than a half century ago while visiting near Fort Myers, Fla., author Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, "The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient."

Her ideas about the ocean and its powers to restore our spirit and our passion for life became Lindbergh's best-seller "Gift from the Sea."

Though I normally write Q&A columns, I couldn't help but be moved by an article written by Jennifer L. Greer that recently appeared in the Birmingham News.

Her perspective centers around Lindbergh's words in 1955 and what they mean to Greer and - perhaps more importantly - as they pertain to today's oil spill in the Gulf. So thanks to this writer as I offer some thoughts of my own.

Born and reared in South Alabama, I also enjoyed the beautiful sugar white beaches and azure waters of the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach areas of my home state.

Each summer from infancy on, I traveled with my parents and siblings to Panama City where we

fished, ate at the still legendary Captain Anderson's restaurant, played in the water on giant truck inner tubes, and screamed with delight as we raced in and out of the surf each evening at dusk in our attempts to net the sometimes elusive crabs that often became a supper or two.

And it was to this special shore that my family returned following my extended stay in Warm Springs, Ga., where my 7-year-old body, still paralyzed from the waist down with polio and proclaimed irrevocably crippled, lay on the sand where Daddy carried me down to the water's edge. Then, he and my mother held me aloft into the warm Gulf whose waters cradled me in its arms, just as my parents cradled me in theirs.

Panama City and Pensacola - where as a teen I first discovered Krispy Kreme doughnuts and boys in bands when my girlfriends and our chaperones struck out for a week when summer began each June.

Almost 50 years later when I hear the Swingin' Medallions' "Double Shot of My Baby's Love," I'm transported back to a much more simple and peaceful time with no worries other than which swimsuit to wear and the amount of baby oil and iodine to tan, and burn, my body.

Even as an adult, I couldn't escape my beach destiny. A school in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., became my very first teaching job, and each subsequent year my bridge buddies and I vacationed for a week at Fort Walton Beach, Pensacola Beach or Alabama's southern shores.

Only when I moved to Virginia did the yearly excursions stop; however, my heart never ceased its love affair and upon moving to Tennessee I once again came "home."

Thus, it's no wonder I feel such pain over the horrific events with BP and affinity with residents and lovers of the Gulf area.

So many people want desperately to help but to no avail in too many situations. A few weeks ago, I read of several young Florida beauty queens who collected hundreds of bottles of cold water to distribute to those folks trying to clear the beaches in the sweltering heat, but BP refused to allow the workers to accept the water, ostensibly because the company had contracted out this service.

Further, the crews were instructed not to speak with the girls in case they were with the media. Finally, after four luckless hours of trying to help the workers, the girls handed the water to hot beachgoers instead.

Anne Morrrow Lindbergh's quote is never more relevant than today. Yes, "anxious, greedy, impatient" certainly describe many facets of cultures all over the world; however, in my opinion, these terms define the apparent destruction of the Gulf's flourishing life and the livelihood of many residents.

Perhaps in the midst of such suffering - human and environmental - we humans will finally learn a valuable lesson: as the custodians of God's great earth, if we continue our carelessness and thoughtlessness, both our guardianship of the earth and his creation will cease to exist.

Editor's Note: Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at under Local Business. E-mail her at