Morning Paddle

•July 15, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Underwater Green Sea Grass, Sea Grass UnderwaterGliding, glassy water

Pulsing sea grass, below

Shy sea turtle peeks between blades, feeding body

Paddler flying above takes notice, feeding soul.

tortue marine plongée algue animal pacifique protection espèce

 

This morning I was blessed with a very light breeze and mostly glassy water conditions for my outrigger canoe workout. Since this is the first morning that my schedule and the weather have cooperated (we’ve had a bunch of morning storm days over the last week or so), I was happy to grind out a steady fourteen miles.

I started my paddle early–in the dark–so I was able to enjoy the nearly full moon setting over Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands and the Gulf of Mexico. I paddle with a bright light pointing out over the ama (outrigger) of my canoe. While in the dark, for the first three or four miles, I paddled through hundreds of needle fish–skittering flashes across the surface. But the highlight was gliding over the sea grass beds and spotting the one sea turtle peaking from between the green blades.

###

Advertisements

Ripples

•July 9, 2019 • Leave a Comment

A smooth stone. I was looking for a smooth stone—roundish and flat, perfect for skipping. Sauntering along the shore, my neck bent and eyes scanning. It took some time, but eventually I spotted it—light gray among darker blue stones.

Kieselstein springend

The water’s edge was only feet away. I wrapped my right index finger and thumb around the stone and slid it around until it fit just right. I crouched and leaned—my right shoulder closer to the ground—and threw. The stone (or maybe it was the thrower?) was not so good—two skips and a plunk. Out of sight. I walked away.

I didn’t know I’d changed the world forever.

The ripples were small—they barely made it to the far shore. But, they did—raising and lowering the water just enough to dislodge a small toy sailboat from the bank. Bobbing inTraditional small wooden sailing boat in the pond of park the bright sunlight, the boat, the ripples, the reflection, caught the attention of its five-year old owner. Owen reacted, leapt, and hit the water like a monofilament-crippled pelican. He hadn’t learned to swim yet, and he never would.

 

 

CIRCLE OF LIFE (or Death): Part I

•July 7, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Arrière plan vers asticotsHundreds of meat-eating maggots writhed en masse at the bottom of my garbage can. The movement was revolting and mesmerizing. The putrid reek of decay burned the back of my throat. The stench was repulsive and intoxicating. My head swooned from the overstimulation.

I didn’t even think about why the trash collectors had left the mess in the bottom of the can—why the automatic dumping truck hadn’t shaken them loose. I couldn’t think. I was lost in the sight– drawn deeper into the swirling mass—my eyes, my mind. Without hesitation I climbed into the garbage can—head-first—and plunged into the maggots.

The dive wasn’t stopped short—just slowed—as the maggots redirected their attention to me—to feasting on my head. Thousands of tiny bites—hundreds of thousands—thundered in my ears until they were devoured. Silence. Once my brainstem was consumed the agonizing pain ceased. I felt nothing.

***

The re-start of Japan’s Commercial Whaling and DELPHYS RISING

•June 26, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Illustration idea for banning whaling in Japan.On July 1, 2019–only days away–Japan will once again start blatant commercial whaling. After thirty years of hiding behind the thin veil of “scientific whaling,” Japan has decided to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and hunt minke and beaked whales–at a time when demand for whale meat is at an all-time low.

When this news broke earlier this year, I was still working on my near-finished novel,

Stop the killing

Stop the killing! Save the dolphins!

Delphys Rising. One of the elements already included in the plot of the book was how dolphins–when given the means to communicate with humans–would address the dolphin drive hunts currently taking place in Japan and the Faroe Islands. The hunt in Taiji, Japan–portrayed in the documentary The Cove–was a particular focus in the thriller’s plot.

But, while I sat editing, I knew I had to weave something about Japan’s return to commercial whaling into the narrative–so I did. Most people think commercial whaling ended decades ago–in 1986 when member nations agreed to a world-wide ban through the IWC. Of course, nations that wanted to continue commercial whaling simply withdrew from the organization (or never joined)–or in the case of Japan called a limited hunt “scientific whaling.” The practice still continued across the decades–albeit “under the radar” because most media outlets had bought into the publicity surrounding the ban. Cries of “Save the Whales!” faded into the background.

COVER FINAL FRONT ONLYMy hope with Delphys Rising (in addition to people just enjoying a good story) is to raise a little awareness about Japan’s return to commercial whaling–as well as the continued slaughter through drive hunts, hunting of large whales by companies in Norway and Iceland and the capture of live dolphins for display or animal shows.

I hope you enjoy reading my latest speculative fiction thriller and I hope it prompts you to seek out more information about the whaling and dolphin drive hunts that continue to haunt our humanity from the shadows.

 

***

Delphys Rising is available as an ebook for Kindle and Kindle apps, to Kindle Unlimited subscribers and as a paperback at Amazon.com.

 

 

COUNTING THE STARS WITH DAD

•June 16, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Man looking up towards the Milky Way. Eyre Peninsula. South Australia.The last licks of orange glow on the horizon signaled nature’s transition from day to night. Sitting on a deserted beach, on an isolated key, deep in the Everglades National Park backcountry, I watched the heavens as the stars began to appear one-by-one. Eyes darting frantically, I tried to count each star as it appeared. When stars began to emerge by the hundreds, I was quickly overwhelmed. Closing my eyes, I lay slowly on my back. After a brief visual break, I opened my eyes and tried to absorb the vastness from horizon to horizon. Usually, what floods my mind in these contemplative situations are big thoughts about my place in the world or reflections on how insignificant our tiny planet is in the cosmic scheme of things. But, what dominated my current introspection were not wispy glimpses of answers to life’s eternal questions, but clear visions of camping with my father.

Like so many young families in the early 1960s, mine had started camping as an inexpensive vacation-my mom and dad encouraged and outfitted by dad’s already camping co-workers. At one and a half years old, I was dragged along for all the fun. As the story goes, the first trip was a miraculous success-though it rained most of the two weeks and I’m told I spent most of my time in the tent in a highchair. It couldn’t have been all that bad; the Koelsch’s began a yearly ritual akin to migration that brought us to that same Lake George, New York campground each summer for nearly ten years. There
I caught my first fish (a “sunny” on a bamboo pole that we cooked in a metal Band-Aid box), paddled my first canoe (a beater of a Grumman the livery guy tried to blame dad for denting), and went on my first hike (a ranger-led scramble to the precipice of Roger’s Rock). Lake George was full of memories of the beginning of my love affair with the outdoors.

But, this evening, lying back on the sand on Pavilion Key, relaxing from a day’s kayaking, I recalled a very specific camping image of my father. Mind you, it was family-style tent camping we did at Lake George-three burner Coleman stove, big coolers, cotton sleeping bags with animal print interiors, mattresses that took half an hour to blow up, and a canvas tent that took an hour to erect once you figured out which pole went where. The drive-in campsite had the typical “Fred loves Wendy”-carved picnic table and slightly crooked grill-covered stone fireplace. It’s really just the fireplace that is important to this memory. That’s where dad would sit in a lounge chair and tend the campfire after his family was safely tucked in the tent. Several hours later I would half-hear that familiar tent zipper sound and dad would crawl in next to mom. Always being the curious type, the following morning I would ask dad what he did after we all went to bed. “Trying to count the stars,” he would say.

Dad’s sitting out at night wasn’t just an occasional occurrence. It was something he would do almost every night they weren’t playing cards or socializing with other campground acquaintances. And, each morning, following my question, he would answer with the same, what some people would describe as child-like, enthusiasm: “Trying to count the stars.” Sometimes he would tell me how many he counted that evening-but, the number never really seemed to matter as much as the actual counting. The quest was not for ever truly quantifying the heavens, the quest was the unrestrained joy he found in the trying. It was his continual enthusiasm and sense of wonder that
drenched my brain on that clear night in the Everglades. And, at that moment in my memory, I felt closer to my father than I would have if he were sitting on the beach next to me.

Indian Guide HandbookBeyond our Lake George days, we spent outdoor time together through our participation in the YMCA Indian Guides program. Each of the father-son “journeys” we shared was permeated by dad’s National Geographic Magazine sense of adventure. He skillfully applied his excitement and fed my imagination in ways that made each trip even more rewarding. There was the father-son canoe trip on the Wading River in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens-where an hour of no contact with other canoes and a small “search” plane overhead added a certain “edge” to our trip. And, there was that frigid winter night hike in the Poconos that revealed several well-formed bear prints in the snow’s icy crust. We had photos from some of those trips in a box somewhere, but lying there looking at the night sky I realized that the memories and feelings I cherished the most were not captured on film. They were captured in my heart and reflected in the stars.

Those stars brought me a real gift that evening-a renewed closeness to my father and an understanding of why I could love the outdoors so much. Still lying on the beach, I broke into a appreciative smile and again began to count.

NOTE: this essay originally appeared in Canoe & Kayak Magazine.

Praise from Kirkus Reviews for Delphys Rising

•May 3, 2019 • Leave a Comment

cropped-kip-two-books-beach.jpgI was excited to receive a positive nod for my newest novel, Delphys Rising, from Kirkus Reviews. Here are some of the highlights:

 
“Koelsch (Wendall’s Lullaby, 2017) narrates in a simple style, deftly moving between characters to weave an intricate story of personal growth, relationships (both human and interspecies), and political and military intrigue. The protagonists and supporting cast are all given weight. Although individually this makes them stand out less, it grants the tale a holistic depth to match the gravitas of its subject matter. The dispersed character focus may rob events of some of their urgency, yet the plot, without ever becoming predictable, gains enough momentum to pull readers in.
 
An unusual tale in which the standard environmental bent gets unexpected complexity.”
 
Kirkus Reviews
 
Read the entire review (slight spoilers) at Kirkus Reviews

IndieReader Approved and 4.5 Rating for Delphys Rising!

•May 1, 2019 • Leave a Comment

IR Sticker Approved Sticker 2I’m excited by the recent editorial review of DELPHYS RISING posted by IndieReader! Check it out below:

 

The visionary Dr. Evan McMillon has been working on Midway Island in the Pacific, with little oversight, for the American military. Will his project in human-dolphin communications produce a new, ingenious weapon? An ocean away, at a swim-with-the-dolphins resort on Tortola, Jasmine Summers, believing McMillon dead, has been raising their son, the unusually gifted Hanau. As Dr. McMillon’s military program reaches its culmination, Han undertakes the search for a father who may or may not be alive. Han, Jasmine, Evan, and a set of well-drawn secondary characters, are inexorably drawn into a suspenseful web of good intentions, unintended consequences, and grave implications.

In 1959, Robert A. Heinlein defined science fiction as “Realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method.” Kip Koelsch’s DELPHYS RISING stands as an exemplar of Heinlein’s definition, and, even better, as darn good storytelling.

One of Koelsch’s strengths rests in the creation of intellectually, emotionally and psychologically credible characters. By showing enough without telling too much, he also allows the characters unpredictability. As a result, we don’t know what choices they will make; this, in turn, amplifies the story’s dynamism. While young Han reads emotionally as a few years older than he is, overall Koelsch creates characters with a presence and believability, reminiscent of Philip Pullman’s work. Most satisfying, Koelsch manages the unspoken between characters deftly, especially between McMillon and Commander Ramirez, and, to great effect, between Admiral Collins, Director Shaw and Secretary Hulme.

COVER FINAL FRONT ONLYKoelsch times his revelations carefully. His restraint is one of several pillars that support this novel. While this is not the first fictional exploration that draws on the allure of human-dolphin communications, strong storytelling, excellent pacing and a highly original plot make the work stand out. The story turns unexpectedly, building gradually and well. Underlying themes of free will, the nature of communications, and the power of relationship are carried along briskly in a story that sharpens in intensity, gravity, and the sense of danger as it goes along.

While Kip Koelsch’s novel DELPHYS RISING, the follow up to Wendall’s Lullaby, is not the first fictional exploration on the allure of human-dolphin communications, strong storytelling, excellent pacing and a highly original plot make the work stand out as an exemplar of the thriller/sci-fi genres.

~Ellen Graham for IndieReader

 
%d bloggers like this: