Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
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
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 it...fire 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 day...it 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
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.