July 14, 2012

Great Gull Island - Day 6 & 7

The past week has exposed me to experiences that were either new, or dormant and waiting to be exposed. The kind that you forget about and need a reminder of every now and then; that somehow manage to turn up at the eleventh hour. Sometimes you get kicked in the shin (or pooped on) and you realize that you've been waiting for that to happen for a long time.

It is amazing to be able to be an observer of the delicate world that is around us. It is always there, and perpetuates whether we pay attention to it or not, and in our day-to-day modern world, it is definitely easy to forget it's there. But sometimes you are given the opportunity, rather the privilege, to be an observer - to look through a window onto this now-disconnected parallel universe that we were once a part of. Suddenly all of the randomness doesn't seem so random and enigmatic anymore. For maybe a nanosecond, everything has its place, including you. You see the tiny working parts and intricate puzzle pieces. 

What brought on this introspection? Well I've always viewed things this way to some degree, but I got a healthy reminder of it this past week. 

I spent hours "out in the field" interacting with and observing the common terns, as I've been rambling on about the last few days. 

I've felt the excitement of watching chicks hatch in the early morning dew; feeling honored to be present as they start breathing in the oxygen that I, too, am breathing...their wet feathers starting to dry to downy fluff. 

I've also held a freshly hatched chick, barely hours old, that was cold and distressed and heaving, covered in dirt, with no parent in sight. I knew that his breaths would be few in number, and after watching from afar, found that he was indeed abandoned. I've also had to watch chicks that had made it to 25 days, wander drowsily with drooped wings, finally face-planting into the ground, to likely not get up again. They make no attempt to flee or protest when I scoop them up.

On the other end of the island, its peer stretches out his wings and hops, a couple inches off the ground at a time, flapping madly...building up muscle and coordination to, in a few days time, soar over the water in search of food.

And yet somehow even the morbid and ugly is beautiful, because there is comfort in that it is part of the larger, onward, unyielding, churning of nature, like heavenly geometry.

Okay, so I did have a glass or two of wine before boarding the train back to New York...and I'm not quite sure how to wrap up this rambling monologue. It just felt good to be very present and very aware.  We each occupy a very tiny mass of cells in this unimaginably large universe, and sometimes, you really feel like it - in a good way.

Stay tuned for more pictures and videos.  I have over 600 to sort through.

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