Photo-Journal

Photography and Writing by James McCarthy

endangered species

All Species Parade III

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Come join our parade. We’ll be led by the “loon ranger,” Gary Lawless, close observer of the loons of Damariscotta Lake, who paddles his kayak in solidarity with these elegant water birds and their crazy laughing songs. Let us remember to be good neighbors to these shy birds whose closest living relatives are penguins and the “tube-nosed swimmers,” albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters. May their haunting tremolo songs always grace our great ponds and lakes, filling our dreams with intimations of wild nature — both theirs and our own.

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He's joined at the head of the parade by Al Miller, who's been performing, telling stories and inspiring others to share their gifts on stage and off at The Theater Project for 40 years. Several hundred of us followed them down Brunswick’s Maine Street on Friday afternoon, laughing and dancing under a cloudy sky that threatened to rain on our parade ... but did not. Not just children but adults, too, wearing costumes and masks signifying all creatures great and small. Let us remember: the good Lord made them all.
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Perhaps the children wondered what it’s all about, this joyful march through the center of town by young-at-heart adults disguised as wolves, cobras, eagles or butterflies. We told them: “It’s a celebration.”

A celebration that calls us to be mindful of all our wild brothers and sisters, the birds, mammals, plants and insects that share our habitat in the watersheds of the Androscoggin and Kennebec Rivers, which join with four other rivers in Merrymeeting Bay — the Cathance, Eastern, Abagadasset and Muddy rivers, a joining of sacred waters that will flow into the Gulf of Maine, the name of our very own bioregion in northeastern North America.

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May the children catch a sense of wonder as they marched along with us in the third annual All Species Parade, organized and sponsored by Spindleworks and Arts Are Elementary.

Let us remember
Salmo salar, our endangered fellow traveler, the Atlantic salmon returning each spring from the North Atlantic Ocean to spawn, if they’re able, in the swift-running gravelly tributaries of our major rivers. What a mystery! The instinct to return to the river of their birth to reproduce and begin once again the cycle of alevins becoming fry becoming parr becoming smolts, which then turn silver and undergo other changes that will allow them to live in the Atlantic’s salty waters for up to three years before returning to our rivers as salmon to begin that cycle all over again.

Let us remember the secretive
Canada lynx, reviled by some as an undocumented alien who sneaks across our border in search of snowshoe hares. What the lynx might teach us is that there is no line — on this side “ours” on that side “theirs” — but instead one vast boreal forest, itself ever-changing due to clear-cutting and a changing climate. In truth, it was their “home” long before it was ours.

Let us remember the
piping plovers and least terns, those endangered shorebirds that nest on our beaches; may they nest in peace. And the Katahdin arctic, found nowhere else in the world but the summit of Katahdin; may we stick to marked trails and leave these smallish butterflies alone to bless our highest peak with their rare and fragile beauty.

Let us share stories of fish and fowl, flora and fauna, reptiles, amphibians and insects. In doing so, it will become, truly,
their parade too.

reading a book
with pages missing
how much is lost


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A version
of this essay appeared as an editorial in the May 12, 2011, edition of The Times Record.