By the Sea

RIP, Odaat. Welcome JJ ODAAT. BRAVO RAVENS. Exploring Environmental History

My last blog entry was written on the day before Odaat died. May he rest in peace.

Odaat, born 12/31/1996, died 1/14/2013. It was and remains heartbreaking here in our home. However, we agreed to search for and found a new puppy who has made his home with Flash and I since about a week after we lost Odaat.

JJ ODAAT was born 10/14/2012. Because his birthdate of 10/14 coincides with that of my little brother and sister named Daniel John and Deboroh Joan, we took their middle initials and added Odaat as JJ's tail.

Debbie died last May; Danny lives on separate from his twin. The loss of a sibling was another difficult painful experience, the more so as it was the youngest of the five children born to my mother and father.

Since Odaat died the Ravens won the Superbowl and I walked down from my office with a co-worker to squeeze into the stadium with 90,000 other fans when the city and state cheered the team's victory return. There were many very purple Fridays at the place I work at on the 8th floor of the State Office Building and I have begun to reflect fondly on the many people I have met there over the past 30 years as I prepare to retire. Writing that was not as easy as it looks but I believe I am ready to move onto another chapter in my life.

One of the things that has preoccupied much of my free time in the past six months has been a convergence in my interest in history and interest in the environment, which have come together in my setting out to study the subject of environmental history. I am hoping to launch a series of speakers to discuss what this is all about and to promote a look back at our city with the idea of rewriting its history based upon the relationship of humans here with nature, other creatures and our air, land and water.

Within this topic, I have been wondering, too, how environmentalism developed. The last book I finished reading was entitled "Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement" by Robert Gottlied.

His exploration begins in the late 19th century when the issues that would spark the Progressive Era were coming into focus and folks like Jane Addams and Alice Hamilton were helping working class and poor people most negatively impacted by industrial pollution. The book closes in the 1990s with an active environmental justice movement continuing to fight class and race discrepancies today.

Another provocative volume that has given me great pause was "The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future" by Thomas Berry, who sees this time as "the terminal phase of the Cenozioc Era" and says, "Our own special role, which we will hand on to our children, is that of managing the arduous transition from the terminal Cenozoic to the emerging Ecozoic Era, the period when humans will be present to the planet as participating members of the comprehensive earth community."

I encourage others to consider this subject of environmental history as well as what things like climate change mean for the future. A fascinating website to explore is one entitled "Environmental History Time Line" which is easy to find with a simple Google search or try this link,

It has taken me a month to write here and I believe the loss of Odaat has been a large part of that. Of course, having a new puppy, JJ ODAAT, is a daily extraordinary drain on our energy at home here, too.

Today we took him for his first visit to the bay. I am not sure who was more excited - JJ or me - about his putting his paws in the sand and sniffing the sea air for the very first time in his life.

I do know that being by or, come spring, in the Chesapeake, always renews my love of the natural world and our planet - made up so much of water, which we humans more and more pollute.   

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

lisa boyce February 19, 2013 at 02:14 PM
I am so happy to hear that JJ ODAAT has found you! May you three make memories together.
debra evans March 01, 2013 at 01:22 AM
A very moving story. Thanks for sharing Joe


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