To Point Venus and the Tahitian Heiva festival

by Whitt Birnie

Time to changeThe lagoons of French Polynesia capture the imagination. It’s difficult to break away, unless you have a better destination in mind. I was torn between nature and civilization, eventually giving in to temptation for a return to Papeete.

WhittBirnie A15-02Tetiaroa Island, Brando’s atoll, just to the north of Tahiti, always belonged to royalty and remains a majestic spot, lost in the warm calm waters of the South Pacific.  It was on my way back to Tahiti, so I made an effort to pass nearby and pay my respects.

WhittBirnie A15-04The mountainous southern coast of Tahiti is in great contrast to the low island of Tetiaroa. Simply navigating the passage through the reefs takes total concentration as the currents can be wicked.Whitt Birnie's photosSwells from the Southern Ocean and the ‘Roaring Forties’ excite everyone in the Fenua, especially surfers, but for navigators, attaining a safe anchorage inside the coral reef is the first order of business. Nature delights in showing off.

WhittBirnie A15-06At To’ata, for the dance festival, I met Cap, who spoke remarkably good English as he asked me about my camera.  Then he said he wanted to introduce me to his Mom, who was dancing in the Heiva.  Surprised, I was absolutely sure she was his sister. The rhythms of the drums were warming up, time was short, so we said “so long” as he helped carry her many-flowered costumes.

WhittBirnie A15-05First-place competition winners Temaeva love taking selfies, just like everyone else today. I couldn’t resist following their example.

WhittBirnie A15-07The participating story-telling director of the group Ori I Tahiti poses with one of his young dancers. They were prize winners in the category best costume.

WhittBirnie A15-08Good humor, constant laughter, skill, beauty and happiness endear the Tahitians to everyone. They are truly a remarkable people.  I consider it an honor that they permitted me to record their joy in the Heiva I Tahiti.

The Solstice: marking time on our planet

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by Whitt Birnie

 If I had to represent the Solstice in one image, this would be it.

Polynesian lagoon on the solstice.Streaming through deep-blue skies, bright hot sunlight on the day of the solstice heats the green lagoon, driving humidity upward to form rain-shower clouds, and a life-giving cycle is complete. Waves on the distant reef slowly grind coral into sand: the water here is about eight feet deep, just over two meters, a home for multiple fish and other sea creatures. Are we willing to work and sacrifice to preserve this world we inherited?

 

The vernal equinox: a time of change

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Photos by Whitt Birnie

Teahupoo TahitiWhile the planet gently glides through the equinox into another season, we on earth know we’re in for big changes, either towards wild winter weather or more peaceful summer calms.  Since most Polynesians know no winter, these outdoor people follow the seasons closely, the most skillful working the best Southern Ocean waves generated in the stormy ‘Roaring Forties’, to the delight of everyone. Others share a traditional moment together in their va’a, the outrigger, working the languid lagoon, angling for dinner.

Tahiti: Va'a, tane and vahine.Yours truly has been remiss on Outbound  because the great outdoors keeps calling.  Tempted to post interesting images and find stories to share, so beware, I’ll be back.

Earth Day 2014: On the winds of change

by Whitt Birnie

Unsettled weatherToday is one of those special moments in time when we pause in our hurried lives to reflect on the beauty and sustainability of our planet.

ED02 Earth Day 2014 by Whitt BirnieVery well-informed and respected persons at the summits of their research professions have repeatedly met to present findings on the urgency of modifying our behavior and economic model, so that life as we know it will survive. Those who deny the conclusions that climate-change must be addressed immediately are ignoring the facts — the future health of our lives on this beautiful earth should not be decided by those who have fallen victim to disinformation, lobbies and vested interest groups.

ED03 Earth Day 2014 by Whitt BirnieMankind needs to accept that the ‘common good’ trumps ‘individual desire’ when it comes to matters such as human destiny. Sacrifices are never pleasant, especially when they are voluntary and without immediate results, but the cards are on the table. We must change our behavior or climate-change will change us for the worse, relatively and absolutely. It will increasingly treat us with such fury that the environmental disasters we occasionally suffer from today will become commonplace.

ED04 Earth Day 2014 by Whitt Birnie

We have risen to all sorts of challenges before, but this one is threatening our world, our children’s health and happiness and their grand-children’s very survival.  Don’t be blind, accept the obvious. Support your organizations, contact your representatives, consider alternate green solutions, convince the clueless, act intelligently – we are approaching the point of no return. Honestly, are you willing to be remembered as the generation at the helm when the pilot just abandoned the controls?

ED05 Earth Day 2014 by Whitt BirnieEarth Day 2014.  Nasty weather was brewing offshore, but for a moment the sun shone thru, celebrating Earth Day’s anniversary.  I chose a similar image for the photo challenge “My Beautiful Planet,” sponsored by TIME and Google+.

ED06 Earth Day 2014 by Whitt BirnieThe weather began to clear, the lagoon took on a familiar complexion, the agitated trades returned, but the problem remained.

ED07 Earth Day 2014 by Whitt BirnieHeavy clouds carrying gusty squalls pile into the northeast coast of Moorea, kicking up spume on the outlying coral reefs.

ED08 Earth Day 2014 by Whitt BirnieReassuring in its warmth, the setting sun sends us warning signals about climate-change. We are at a tipping point today. It’s become our turn to change our foolish ways. “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”

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