Leave only footprints

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Many decades ago, when I was but a youth of 12 or 13, my wise old grandmother took me to Padre Island National Seashore in South Texas, about 15 miles due east from my hometown of Kingsville, 60 miles if driving on paved roads.

padre island

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Padre Island was where I first saw a Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle. Back then there were hundreds, maybe thousands of them, at certain times of the year.

As I was playing in the sand and surf, I found a mound of flowers. I picked a few to give them to my wise old grandmother.

She took them, said “Thank you!” and then admonished me for picking flowers at the national seashore. Loosely quoted, she said, “No one else will get to enjoy these beautiful flowers because they have been picked and will soon die. It is best to admire them where they grow and leave them for others to also enjoy.”

On the drive home, which was about 45 miles, the flowers sat between us on the bench seat (smile if you remember when cars had bench seats and you could slide over to be next to your loved one or, perhaps, keep some flowers between the two of you).

I felt so bad about picking the flowers and started talking about how sorry I was for taking them and preventing other people from enjoying them. That’s when my wise old grandmother told me something that I have never forgotten: “When you go to a national park, leave only footprints.”

Well, to honor the memory of my wise old grandmother, following are a dozen pictures of footprints from the beaches of San Diego.

Can you identify the footprints, like we did in Scouts?

One picture is of my footprints; which one?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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11 thoughts on “Leave only footprints

  1. jolynnpowers

    very wonderful feet! my son who is 5 loved this post as he walked by he side are those Boot tracks… of course he was correct and we looked over the prints and talked about what animals or vehicle left them.. he already knows dog, deer, and cat pretty well and sometimes know raccoon. fun stuff!

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  2. coastalcrone

    What wonderful memories you have of your grandmother. You would find the area much changed now but at least the Padre Island National Seashore has preserved the natural beauty for us. My two children and I went there so many weekends. The car had bench seats.

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  3. FH7 Productions

    Great images, thanks for the comments on my blog! I am changing over to more photography myself so a good example of a photoblog is great for me right now.

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  4. Sand Spring Chesapeakes

    After reading this post and really enjoying it I went on to read a poetry book I had gotten from a friend. Words on the Wing by Wascana Writers. In there was this poem that made me think of this post.
    Little Flower
    Across the meadow,
    slowly I walked.
    Content with myself,
    Steeped in my thoughts.

    I saw a flower
    hidden in the grass.
    Lovely to look at,
    I could not pass.

    I bent to pluck it,
    take it home with me,
    when softly it said,
    Please hear my plea.

    Must I be broken
    to wilt and to die,
    when I can bring joy
    to all that pass by?

    So I left it unbroken,
    to bloom and to grow,
    so it may flourish
    and beauty bestow.

    Siegfried Zick

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