What will I buy for Mother’s Day? I was thinking about this a while ago as I was walking down the street. Then I saw a poster announcing the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth. I’m not a passionate Christian or anything, but I feel her words and deeds deserve respect beyond the religious side of her life. And, because of that, I thought a bit about the word “Mother.”
Creatures that live on the earth eat other living things that in turn come from the earth; they live their lives on the earth before finally returning to the earth. People are no different. That is why we call the planet “Mother Earth,” a name I believe is appropriate.
At the same time, we also hear about “Mother Ocean.” That’s because it’s also true that all life originated in the sea. When I’m out surfing or waiting for a wave, there’s a wonderful feeling out there that’s probably a lot like the sensation a baby has in its mother’s womb. The ocean really is our mother, too.
What about the beaches? Sandy beaches are the place between the ocean and the land, yet not entirely either one—making them special places. Even though sand doesn’t have the nutrients soil does, there are plants that prefer it; crabs dig the holes that become their homes, and sea turtles come in spring to lay their eggs in the sand. So, I suppose you could call this “Mother Beach” as well.
Which reminds me of an interesting story about those sea turtles laying their eggs on the beaches. Birds, of course, warm their eggs using their own body heat, but turtles use Mother Beach. The turtles dig a hole about 50 centimeters deep in which they lay their eggs; although the conditions will be a little different depending on the place and time, the sand will be about 29°C. If the average temperature is above 29°, there will be more females born; if colder, more males.
So what does this mean? Well, if global warming continues, then only females will be born. For sea turtles, it would be a disaster if the balance of male and female were upset, so it might be they will wait past the hottest season or move to a cooler location to lay their eggs. This could be a measuring stick for global warming. Thinking about mothers and the earth, there is a tradition in Japan that a home is the mother’s territory, and the husband is supposed to stay out of the way. But, there is also the understanding it is also the husband’s job to protect the mother. I love the sandy beaches (and of course, I love my wife, too). It is where I capture many of the images I shoot. I want to do something about the situation all around Japan where the beaches are disappearing. There’s an old Japanese saying, “Ii hoko ni susumu,” something like the tide is rising, or moving in the right direction—and Mother Teresa said something that has that positive sense: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”