Wednesday, February 25, 2009

more photos

Dolphin Rescue:

I just changed the link. The pictures should actually work this time :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I have been meaning to write about a last week’s past adventure for some time now, and I think I’m stalling because I know my words can’t do it justice. I feel like a childhood dream-come-true needs some kind of exuberant telling. But I’ll try my words at the telling, anyway.

Wednesday morning the house was a bustle with everyone packing their lunches and making their various ways to their IP’s. Amanda got a phone call from one of our service partners who was out shellfishing in Wellfleet Harbor…there was a WHALE in the harbor. Well, I decided right then and there no IP for me today, and ran to get a camera and some boots. My first whale! Besides Shamu. My first WILD whale! :) Pretty much the whole house followed suit, and we caravanned over to the harbor.

The Cape was in the middle of a rather snowy time—our driveway becomes (at times) an impassable ever-steepening mountain, and the back roads get pretty thick with snow. But it certainly does make the rest of the world look pretty—definitely Christmas-village-esque. So, needless to say, it was a very cold, very snowy time to be outside.

We met the whale just chilling in the harbor…well, I suppose he wasn’t exactly just hanging out, more like he was trying to figure out how in the world he got stuck in there and wondered how he was going to get back out. A stranding network volunteer came over and people started counting respirations. There were also for dolphin in the harbor…they appeared to be having a good time catching fish, but the silly guys weren’t paying attention to the lowering tide. A bunch of us went back to the house to put on more layers, grab some waders, and prepare for a possible stranding. And I was so excited! Haha, I know, seems very maniacal to be hoping for a stranding…but really, what a cool opportunity!

When I got back the harbormaster was leading the whale out of the harbor with some kind of sound-maker that detracts the whale. (a supposed happy ending…but unfortunately the same whale…a 40’ juvenile finback…re-stranded further down the beach and died a couple of days later) We then learned that one of the dolphins had stranded somewhere in the mud flats, and the other three were most likely going to strand on the opposite shore. So…the rescues began.

A somewhat hilarious sight appeared in front of me as I came to the mudflats. A couple of housemates had made their way to the dolphin and were starting to transport it…a couple other housemates were struggling to free themselves from the unforgiving knee-deep mud. This is the stinky black mud that you dog people know all too well as mud a dog can’t resist. There were already enough people with the dolphin so I stayed back and took some pictures. A very slow, very sticky dolphin transport ended successfully…the dolphin was put into a trailer and we headed to the other beach to check on his 3 friends.

These three dolphins were stranded in oyster flats. They were obviously already stressed, and people hovering over them with strange voices and prodding hands adds to their stress. Some of them would thrash around trying to free themselves which resulted in cuts from the sharp oyster shells. It was pretty amazing to hear them chirping to each other…it makes you wonder what they are saying…a check to make sure everyone is accounted for, a cry for help, a word of encouragement.

We were here for a couple of hours assisting the stranding network with taking data, measurements, blood, temperatures, and finally transporting all three into the main trailer. The transportation is done by almost rolling the animal onto a tarp…the tarp/stretcher has holes for the dolphin’s fins, and handles for 8 people to walk alongside and carry the animal. The plan was to drive all four dolphin to the tip of the Cape—Provincetown—and release them simultaneously into the ocean, away from any potential stranding areas.

Many other people had gathered at the P-town beach to help out with the release. People came in full dry suits…which was nice, because I was a little worried about walking into the ocean and having waves spill into my waders. After the dolphins were tagged and the release groups were formed, every group walked into the ocean holding the dolphin on its tarp (the front person went about chest deep, I was a little past my hip) and let the tarp go. Each dolphin slid into the water…and swam away. It was a slow transition back into the water for a couple, but each ended up swimming away in the end. Yay!

So it was a long day. And a cold day. And for some a very muddy day. But a good day. Someone asked me “did you get to look in its eye?” And now I can say yes to that question. Definitely a good day.

I'll be posting some pictures...and according to my mom there is a nice online news video of the release complete with a white blob (aka me in my jacket)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

a burning renewal

Broom crowberry. This Cape Cod native plant is locally abundant, globally rare. It isn't much to look at...scraggly scrub grass that grows in patchy tufts in open areas. But, there it is--created, and interacting as part of this world. The crowberry likes fire. Fire-aphilic...mmm yep made that one up. Ants eat its little berries and the remaining seeds must wait (in eager expectation?) for something, something cleansing, to prepare them to grow into what they were originally intended to be. So in comes fire. Consuming for some, renewing for others. The crowberry seeds are spurred on to germinate after the flames come through, and more crowberry is established.
Monday we were chainsawing, piling, and burning pines for fire management and to create open space for more broom crowberry. We had to be careful not to step on renews it, but a footstep will kill it. I enjoyed thinking about this little plant so low to the ground that we were working around all day. It really was an amazing could have been spring. And the work kept us satisfyingly busy. The fire Erin and I were tending even got commented on by one of the fire guys. It was crazy at the end of the day to realize the many pines that were growing just that morning had been reduced to the smoldering pile of ash. But again, it's all part of it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chickadees and Heaven...Chickadee Heaven :)

Yes…it has been quite a long while. A long while full of holidays, lack of a working computer, and a plague. The plague (a rather nasty stomach flu) is currently sweeping through our house. So far it has claimed all but four…but the supposed “instigator” just had a relapse tonight, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire house succumbs in the end.

Today felt particularly wonderful not only because it almost felt like spring, but it was my first “I feel like a normal person again” day after having been sick. I took a shower to wash away any lingering flu and LEFT THE HOUSE! I sat through my 3rd ever church service by myself—it’s a strange feeling, really. It seems like I should be saying I feel grown up, driving all the way to church and sitting down (and choosing!) a seat like a normal person. But to say that almost implies that in order to feel grown up I should be feeling some measure of loneliness, and I know that isn’t right. So for lack of a better description I’ll just say it was (and maybe always will be…) slightly strange in a maybe-I’m-grown-up kind of way. I met a collie name Casey after church and couldn’t help thinking of Callie…and then couldn’t help thinking of Ella.

Monica and I went for a mini adventure in the afternoon. We drove into Provincetown the intention of doing a Beech trail walk. The pathway became an impassable chute of ice all too soon into our journey, and we turned around. BUT it made me wonder why no one has invented a sport with ice skates and a winding, hilly ice-covered pathway. How fun would that be? :)

Before we left I noticed a bunch of chickadees that we hanging out in a cedar tree area. I realized they were enjoying bird seed that someone had spread on the ground, and Monica and I stood with some in our hands hoping to lure the little guys over to us. It worked! And it made my day :) There is nothing like a chickadee, and especially nothing like a chickadee perched on your finger.

Provincetown is a dog town. Meaning…there are a lot of dogs there. Every other person has a dog. And every other dog is wearing some kind of accessory. I was people/dog watching from a coffee shop window for a while after our chickadee fest. We stopped there for a while to enjoy the downtime just before a local choir concert started. The concert was great! The choir is about 150 or so, and their concert was a tribute to the Beatles. I think my favorite piece was Blackbird by a chamber capella group. So fun. At one point the conductor asked the packed-in audience if anyone had tuned in to watch the Beatles the first time they appeared on TV…and over ¾ of the people raised their hands! For some reason that really surprised me…but I guess I am living amongst a retired (and in P-town also a very hippy/arsty) group. I'm actually going to be joining that choir starting Thursday...I'm pretty excited for it. We're singing a Hadyn piece in the spring. Nothing like "the heaven's are telling the glory of GOD-DA!"

Not all of us in the house were super excited to watch the super bowl (although I did get to use my 3D glasses!) and a few of us set up a makeshift art studio in the back quad. Jessica is a pretty talented artist, and incredibly encouraging when it comes to teaching and making your pathetic picture feel like a masterpiece. It was very relaxing to sit and think about how my pencil and brush were moving across the canvas to make a supposed replica of a picture. And no, it looks nothing like the picture…but it was well worth it. Jess is going to give me a lesson in how to mix colors tomorrow :)

And…best way to end the day…MY Jessica just called! Oh, I wish so much I could be there with her right now. She is pressing a tree fern leaf for me :) me oh my. Too many thoughts.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

more pictures

oh the weather outside is frightful (sometimes)

Monday was the first "real" day of winter for group service. Our house was with the Eastham Dept. of Public Works on a piece of property during the 20ish degree day. The eventual goal is to clear 50% of the underbrush as a firebreak throughout this 200ft strip of land that borders some homes. I was quite bundled, and even tried out my new Toastie Toes foot warmers--and they stayed nice and toasty! Really the only part of me that was cold was my chin. I think they should invent Toastie Toes for your face...only I suppose they would need a new name. So the people trained in chainsawing were chopping down trees, and those of us that weren't trained were lopping, hauling and piling brush/trees. Oh but I did get to use this brush-wacker gas-powered weed wacker thing, which was kinda exciting. Only it didn't work very well.
Today was back up to a summerish 50 degrees. Oh, the fickle weather of Cape Cod.
So I am now 23! Old, I know. My housemates made some brownies on my birthday, and we all enjoyed some delicious brownie sundays. Friday a bunch of us went to Harwich to a woman's home for a little dinner gathering. Afterwards we walked out to mainstreet to partake in the annual "Christmas Stroll" down Main Street. I had my hopes set a little too high for this magical stroll--mostly it tunred out to be an excuse for the shops to be open a few hours longer to catch consumers full of Christmas cheer unawares and lull them into their stores. On saturday I spent a few hours at the library with Jessica--we were both attempting to do some research on grad schools. Long day! That evening a few of us left to eat some Indian food, which was amazing. The waitress even brought out mango ice cream for all (and mine had a little candle in it!). Then we went contra dancing! I was doing a lot of laughing, a lot of bad dancing, and a lot of "wait, I thought I was the guy for this song" :) Twas fun.
The snow came on Sunday! We had stayed overnight at the Bourne house, so we went out for breakfast in the morning and then ventured over the Bridge to do some the snow storm! It was a winter wonderland. Later that day we went to the Barnstable Fire Dept. and helped out with their fundraiser by selling Christmas trees and wreathes. I even wore a wreath and danced around by the street. It was a pretty good day. Once we got back to Wellfleet, we realized it had rained all day instead of snowing and there was hardly a snow flake in sight.
Tonight I had my first yoga experience! So fun! I'm pretty sure I'm awful at it, but I enjoyed it none the less.
Well, that's all for now. Goodnight!
*Miss Ella--one of the best dogs I have known.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"beauty of the day"

Amanda said this ("beauty of the moment") today while we were in the middle of a service project. She says it as a reminder to be still, realize your place, and appreciate all the beauty that is in the current moment. To first describe the project a bit:
We were with the Eastham DNR helping them with shellfishing. In the morning a group of us did odd little jobs--spreading oysters in Salt Pond, preparing new cages for young shellfish, and creating a makeshift cart that would help us lug out bags of spat-covered shells and rebar later in the day. What is spat? Well, basically it's oyster goo that will eventually look like baby oysters and grow into big oysters :) So as a group we hiked out onto First Encounter Beach...and it looked like the surface of the moon. Or maybe the desert. Or maybe just like the tide had gone out and wasn't going to come back for a very long time. But whatever the landscape resembled, it stretched out for forever. At times we would cross sections of water that we waded through and there were also higher pieces of land that were covered in tall grasses. When we finally reached the bags of oyster spat after our trek, we began carting them out and spreading them all around the flats so they can continue to grow. Then we walked some more, and deconstructed huge streches of netting and rebar that provide cover for steamers (soft shelled clams) while they are growing. Basically the day involved a lot of trudging in heavy waders, digging in sand, carrying heavy/awkward materials...but it was great. And beautiful. We even saw the sunset, even though it was quite cloudy.
So now back to the "beauty of the day"... When Amanda said this I had been thinking about all of the oyster spat that I had just managed to wipe on my nose after trying to scratch an itch with my spat-coated gloves. So it seemed especially appropriate that I be re-awakened about the beautiful and amazing place and position in which I am--living, serving, and loving. And yes, I may be living below the poverty line...but hey, I'm living! And I really can't even compare my situation to the poverty line, because here I am with a job, a home that I don't have to pay for, I don't have to worry about those student loans yet, and I have an incredible support system. One of my main "worries" right now is what to do after this year, in part a daunting task because there are "so many options"...and after having said this aloud I was thankfully reminded of my faulty logic in seeing options as a worry. But the unknown of that "what now?" nonetheless remains a tad bit intimidating in all of its uncertainty.
I picked up a book of poems at the library by Mary Oliver. This one in particular caught my eye...partly because of its length :) I found it good for a smile (in a sense) and good for a think.

Watching a Documentary about Polar Bears
Trying to Survive on the Melting Ice Floes
That God had a plan, I do not doubt.
But what if His plan was, that we would do better?

Thoughts? Well, I am going to sleep now. I have been wanting to for the past 3 hours, but 7:00 is just not an acceptable bed time. But 9:58 totally is :) Goodnight!