Friday, September 17, 2010

Florida Fandango


From a wonderful Blog Paula's Pardise

Because Grand Bahama Island sits a mere 68 miles off the coast of South Florida, the closeness creates a sort of fandango of back-and-forth, here-and-there-frequently two-step, where the best of both worlds is readily at hand.

The small flock of flamboyant feathered friends in this picture were gorgeous to see recently at Ft. Lauderdale’s Flamingo Gardens, and it got me thinking about the great abundance of flamingos in The Bahamas, where the world’s largest colony of West Indian Flamingos (some 50,000 of these long-legged lovelies!) are a true Bahamas National Trust conservation success story on the southernmost island of Inagua. Protected by law, the wild flamingos of Inagua live in a beautiful symbiosis, thriving along the shallow lagoons and salt ponds created by The Morton Salt Company in their harvesting of almost a million pounds of salt each year.

Known as the national bird of The Bahamas (and sometimes locally called “fillymingos”), these brightly colored wonders take their name from the Latin word for “flame”, and are just one of the many shared tropical ties between Florida and the 700 islands and cays (pronounced “keys”) of The Bahamas.

Images of flamingos and their iconic pink plastic lawn ornaments (created in 1957) became so widespread and overused in the marketing of Florida’s development boom that some people see them as a cliched symbol of paradise. Their image has swung back and forth between the ultimate in tacky taste and retro-cool for decades now. I can’t argue with that (and I’m actually a big fan of kitsch and love seeing a flock of pink plastic for a good cause!), but I also can’t help but be amazed at the odd elegance of these exotic creatures in a more natural environment.

Flamingos became a symbol of the tropical good life in Florida at about the same time a group of concerned world citizens took steps to save actual wild flamingos from extinction. Because of their timely efforts to save the flamingos, they are now a symbol not only of the good life, but of a natural and national treasure in The Bahamas. I am encouraged to think that The Bahamas still has a chance to thoughtfully and carefully develop its many precious and unique islands, and to grow in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manner, learning valuable lessons of restraint and environmental awareness from its more commercially overgrown-up cousin, Florida.

In The Bahamas, the flamingo was saved from extinction through a combination of foresight, vision, international cooperation, hard work, and dedication to preserving irreplaceable distinctive rare beauty. May this same approach (and sparks of divine design inspiration as graceful and eclectically riveting as those seen in the flamingo!) ever be present in any development of the stunning, world-enhancing, and incredibly beautiful and beloved islands of The Bahamas. Amen.

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