Life & Death of the Salt Marsh

Written before a time when the term “Ecosystem Services” existed (MEA 2005), John and Mildred Teal’s “Life and Death of the Salt Marsh” (1976), shed a preemptive light on it from one of nature’s greatest gifts to humanity – salt marshes. This is an intertidal zone (wetland), situated between the land and ocean, which is regularly flooded and drained by the tides of the coast. Like other wetlands, it is characterized by its peaty composition (decomposing plant material) and root-filled muddy substrate, extending up to a few meters deep and expanding hundreds of meters wide. As meandering green ribbons of plant growth, it is unique for its random pockets of land and scurrying strips of water – that vitally connects our nation’s seaboards. From the Canadian coast of Newfoundland to the Florida Everglades to the Gulf of Mexico, salt marshes do not ask for much in return; except, protection to survive. Contributing immensely to the survival of humankind, the Teals tell the story of the salt marsh – beginning to end. From the beginning, these wetlands have protected us by protecting our quality of water (via runoff filtration and metabolization of excess nutrients), buffering huge wave action from flooding, and trapping sediment to protect us from storm surges, landslides, and shoreline erosion. In addition, it even provides a safe refuge for countless marine denizens, serving as saltwater nurseries for young fish (before moving to open water), and being grassy sanctuaries for birds (i.e., hiding their young from predators). By the end, however, we find that many salt marshes have been/or are currently being drained, destroyed and replaced by human infrastructure – with little to no knowledge of what they actually do or what great purpose they actually serve. For these reasons, the Teals try to inform us about these “kidneys of our environment;” and the trouble wrought by our neglect and lack of protection of them. Ultimately, these under-appreciated environs need our support and attention; they’re an integral part of our nation’s economy and culture (i.e., by providing habitats for fish, shrimp, and crab) as well as giving us myriad resources (i.e., healthy fisheries and coastline support) that eventually affects all of our communities. And in spite of its less than attractive appearances, it is worth much more, than the things that we are seemingly replacing it with (i.e., marinas, golf courses, housing developments, etc.). As a result, we must continue educating ourselves and thinking of ways to protect this irreplaceable and necessary gift from nature. Remember, finally, the resplendent and treasured melody that you may have also heard as a child – “when the ocean tide rolled in and the gentle music of the moving water was carefully added to the comforting noise of the prairie rustling alongside it, as the wind whispered messages, courtesy of the salt marsh” –  but what happens to this duet, if we continue ignoring it? I fear, a song like it will cease to be heard again.
By: C. Fattal, 2016
Dedicated to Duke Nicholas School of the Environment


Etymology of “Black Friday”

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The first Black Friday occurred in 1869 after financier Jay Gould and railway businessman James Fisk attempted to corner the gold market, which ultimately resulted in financial panic and the collapse of the market. A little over 60 years later, on October 29, 1929, another stock market crash referred to as Black Tuesday marked the onset of the Great Depression.

Following suit with the earlier “black” days, the true origin of the post-Thanksgiving Black Friday lies in the sense of black meaning “marked by disaster or misfortune.” In the 1950s, factory managers first started referring to the Friday after Thanksgiving as Black Friday because so many of their workers decided to falsely call in sick, thus extending the holiday weekend. About ten years later, Black Friday was used by Philadelphia traffic cops to describe the day after Thanksgiving because they had to work 12-hour shifts in terrible traffic. Soon the term caught on among shoppers and merchants in Philadelphia, and from there it took off nationwide.

The 1980s brought the mythology of Black Friday that’s often heard today. While the phrases in the black and in the red are used in the business world to describe profits and losses, this explanation for one of the busiest shopping days of the year only came about in the 1980s, about 20 years after the phrase Black Friday was in regular use.


Hope in the Wild

I find that the wilder and quieter the place, the more we become who we really are. Instead of spending so much of the day turning off, tired and a bit overstimulated, we begin to open up: layers slowly sliding off, awareness of our permeability emerging, a welcoming in of the world that surrounds every one of our cells.

-Anne Martin


A crystal blue lake in southern Argentina (CNF2015)

Art of Making Possible

Hillary Rodham Clinton at her Commencement, 1969

My entrance into the world of so-called “social problems”
Must be with quiet laughter, or not at all.
The hollow men of anger and bitterness
The bountiful ladies of righteous degradation
All must be left to a bygone age.
And the purpose of history is to provide a receptacle
For all those myths and oddments
Which oddly we have acquired
And from which we would become unburdened
To create a newer world
To translate the future into the past.
We have no need of false revolutions
In a world where categories tend to tyrannize our minds
And hang our wills up on narrow pegs.
It is well at every given moment to seek the limits in our lives.
And once those limits are understood
To understand that limitations no longer exist.
Earth could be fair. And you and I must be free
Not to save the world in a glorious crusade
Not to kill ourselves with a nameless gnawing pain
But to practice with all the skill of our being
The art of making possible.

-Nancy Scheibner


The University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana (MCashore2015)

A Portrait Painted By Anxiety

At the most inconvenient times, I have persisting thoughts that swim around my mind, which go far beyond worrying about exams, paying for groceries, or having a social life. No, instead, they are piercing memories; incidents that happened a year ago that sometimes, robs my attention from enjoying today.

Having the ability to reminisce is a beautiful thing. On the other hand, I allow these memories to define who I am as a person. Even as I get older and transition into new life positions–from college to graduate school, to a new relationship, to a new job– I may let the thought of who I once was, imprison me and hold me back.

In fact, anxious thoughts can hinder any of us from a successful life and moving forward. If we do that, we can individually hinder ourselves in the present and harm our futures. Yes, the world is a complex place, and deciphering it is hard to ignore, but we must strive to discipline our minds to focus on living our lives in the moment.


Article Inspired by: Taylor Christopher Brown

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Hindu Women can be Head of the Family: Court Rules

By: Women In The World (WITW) Staff

Source: The New York Times


In a landmark decision, a New Delhi court has ruled that women can be the “karta” — meaning the legal head of a family, according to ancient Hindu customs — a position previously reserved for men only. The “karta” occupies the superior position in a family and takes full control over property, rituals and other family affairs.

The ruling came about after the daughter of a business family, whose father was the eldest of four brothers, had filed a lawsuit against one of her cousins who claimed that he was now the rightful karta. The high court justified its decision as the logical conclusion of a 2005 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, which granted women equal inheritance rights, arguing that it was rather odd that “while females would have equal rights of inheritance in an HUF property, this right could nonetheless be curtailed when it comes to the management of the same”.

Read the Full Story at the Times of India