Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
This has been quite an odyssey! I've been thinking for several days how I could sum up these last 4 months and here is that effort. I worked very hard to get myself and the house and my responsibilities at home in order before I came, but a lot happened while I was gone that was beyond my control. Who can prepare for the death of your Mom while you're away. Another death in the extended family who had been a friend and mentor for 40 years added to that sense of loss. Then to cap it all off our home was burglarized in broad daylight and Jan had to deal with those feelings of fear and violation without me there. I wonder if any other 4 month period in my life had quite this many such events come together at one time. Then to have it all happen while I was living off the edge of the planet was difficult some days. I am lucky to be part of a family that dealt with it all and told me to stay where I was and complete my duties.
It is hard to think of Tern Island without the previous events being first in my mind but my time here has been the experience of a lifetime. So many events come to mind that it is hard to single out ones that were special, but here are a few that stand out. Living on a small island in the mid North Pacific Ocean. Sharing that Island with a handful of people and 200,000 seabirds. Traveling by small boat across the atoll with no land in view except La Perouse Pinnacle. Swimming and snorkeling at La Perouse felt like you were swimming in mid Pacific with nothing but the horizon in view. Watching many sunsets that showed the green flash as the sun dipped below the horizon. Dozens and dozens of colorful new fish to be observed. Common jobs, like at home, such as raking, shoveling, sweeping, or washing but with dozens of curious albatross chicks looking on. Banding 100 plus albatross chicks in a day. Catching and holding more than a hundred albatross chicks the next day while your partner banded. Seeing a Bristle-thighed Curlew. Watching turtle hatchlings emerge from the sand. Eating my breakfast every morning sitting on a bucket on the front porch in the midst of thousands of seabirds. Having Sooty Terns perch on my head almost every day I worked in the colonies. Monitoring, and banding, 6 different species of seabirds. Watching highly endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals out my bedroom window. Never being away from the sound of the surf or the sounds of 200,000 seabirds.
The whole experience will take months to process in my own mind. There will be lots of organizing of pictures and talking to Jan and other family members to help put it all in perspective. It has been the experience of a lifetime and one of which dreams are made.