I only learned about Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter's, death on the way to dinner with Scott tonight, and I was completely taken aback. I mean the man seemed invincible and he was so sweet and loving with all that enthusiasm for life. With the exception of that one strange incident where he held his tiny newborn near one of his crocodiles, I was a big fan. This is just so sad, and such a loss because he was so wonderfully unique and passionate about wildlife.
I was happy to be out and about with Scott because I haven't been getting out much. I can do maybe one or two things before I get shaky and weak and have to come home, so I was happy to have made love and to be out in the world doing something with my man instead of laying around here watching TV and wishing I felt better. I was showing him my new car, the Lexus 400 Hybrid, (See I told you something good would come out of my accident, now I'm finally able to drive a hybrid, and I don't have to feel like a guilty environmentally destructive, gas guzzling, SUV driver anymore), and we were having fun with the funny talking navigational system when he surprised me by suddenly saying what sounded like, "I guess you heard that one of your rave friends killed another one of your friends today."
At first I thought that someone I actually knew killed someone else I knew and I couldn't understand why he would tell me something this awful in such a cryptic way. I was so scared, everything kind of slowed down for me, and then I felt this surge of adrenaline. I kept asking for clarification but he kept saying the same thing and then I thought, "Oh he means someone at Burning Man. Oh my God, it's finally happened, a murder at Burning Man. This is terrible, terrible, terrible. What the Fuck happened?" So I said, "What happened?" and he kept playing me along for a little while longer, waiting for me to guess at what he was trying to tell me because for some reason he likes to do this, and it's not that he means to torture my poor overworked brain, but sometimes he communicates like this, in incomplete riddles. I think it's a form of play for him, and he doesn't realize how challenging it can be for me, because it's such a reach for me to try to put the pieces together, and it always drives me crazy.
So finally after much circuitous communication I got that he didn't say rave, he said ray, as in stingray. He said friends because I have this huge love affair with pretty much all things that live in the ocean, rays in particular. I've been swimming with them in Hawaii and Tahiti several times, I let Beau swim with them in Tahiti, and they're simply lovely, graceful, beautiful, amazing creatures.
The first wild sea creature I ever saw underwater was a stingray; it was my fist scuba diving experience off Maui when I was just thirteen. It came up to me and sort of checked me out for a while. I was completely transfixed. I have also been longing to swim with stingrays in the Grand Caymans, and even more so with the giant manta rays in Yap in Micronesia. I keep a picture that I took of a baby bat ray on my night stand, and I love to go to Seaworld and spend hours feeding and petting them, even though I feel bad about their being kept there in captivity. Scott also knows that I like Steve Irwin and pretty much anyone who is involved with animal conservation.
I'm just so shocked because I have previously only had the smallest healthy fear of stingrays in general. I know that they have tail barbs and I know to keep my distance. I would never chase one, or swim over it's tail, and if one came to me I would stop and enjoy watching it, but I wouldn't grab at it or try to catch a ride. I also know to watch where I step because sometimes they bury themselves in the sand. But this is my attitude towards most sea life in general, as much as I want to be a human in the sea and kiss and cuddle things, as much as I want to reach out and touch, and get super close, I know that out of respect for these many beautiful wild creatures, and this especially pertains to coral, Hawaiian Monk Seals, and turtles, that I have to keep my distance for their protection, as much as my own.
To be injured by a ray is rare enough, but to be killed by one? I've never known anyone who ever knew of anyone who was, and stories shared among divers about injuries and bite wounds are soooo common. It's just such a freak occurrence that when Scott told me about this, when he said he was pierced through the heart by a stingray, I wouldn't believe him. I thought he must have gotten this from an unreliable source and I had to ask three different people at the restaurant about it before I accepted it as true. What a sad thing, and particularly sad for his wife and two small children, so, so sad. It feels unreal to me, surreal actually, all that work with crocodiles and venomous reptiles and he dies snorkeling over a buried ray making a video for kids, it's just tragic.
On a completely unrelated note I have to make a decision about whether we want to put ourselves through the ordeal of having our home and gardens photographed for another magazine, (Cottage Style). I mean it's a lovely opportunity and it's sweet of my editor/stylist friend Sunday to ask us again but I just don't think I want to put everyone through the hassle of this. We've done this three times now, for Home Companion, Woman's Day, and for the TV show Country Style, and every time we've done this it's taken weeks of nonstop work and expense to make everything camera ready, at least by my standards. It's always good to have an outside force acting as motivation but we've got our annual Halloween open house coming up and I don't even know how I'm going to muster up enough energy for that, let alone for some magazine shoot when Beau is starting school. So I guess I'll call my friend tomorrow and say, "Thanks but no thanks, maybe later."