Where is famous American ingenuity?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 5, 2010

ORANGE BEACH – It feels like the off-season here on the normally crowded, pristine beaches of Alabama where the members of the state’s press association have gathered for their annual summer meeting.

We got lucky; this meeting is normally the third weekend in July in a facility on the beach.

This year, we moved to the opposite side of the highway. If the news of the day is any indication, it’s not likely folks will want to come to the seaside next month.

Just down the road at the Gulf State Park, oil began coming ashore around noon.

Pictures posted online show youngsters dipping the gooey stuff with wooden spoons as if they were stirring caramel.

Clean-up crews were expected to come with shovels and begin scooping up the brown, gooey mess from the shore, but it’s hard to believe they’ll be able to stay ahead of the thousands of gallons of oil going somewhere.

Down the beach, a weeks-old staging area for booms was operating under tight security – another recovery experiment that appears not to be working.

Meanwhile, the governor went to Louisiana to meet with the president, who lo, these many weeks later is “furious” about the oil spill.

As coastal residents watch the threat of massage damage from the Deepwater Horizon disaster muck up their way of life for years to come, the president is watching his approval ratings tank as quickly as the value of BP stock.

It’s heartbreaking to think that we may only have a few days or weeks left to experience the coast as we’ve always enjoyed it.

Sunning on clean, white sandy beaches, swimming in the Gulf and coming in out of the sun to dine on the fruits of the sea may soon be counted among the ways of life we used to enjoy.

Fire, they say, removes the oil the most quickly.

But given recent weeks, one has to wonder if any thought has been given to what that “cure” puts into the air we breathe.

Earlier this week, a video of two farmers suggesting that hay could absorb the massive dark substance floating in the Gulf of Mexico went viral.

Their idea was that the hay could then be taken from the water in the same way that seaweed is cleaned from beaches.

While it makes sense, nay-sayers argue that the hay also would absorb water, that it would sink to the bottom, and the oil would still be in the Gulf.

Too bad.

Now would be a great time to see some of the famous rule-breaking, problem-solving American ingenuity come up with a creative solution to the problems of oil in the Gulf and a need for cleaner, safer energy.