Guest post from Science Educator Josh Adrian
Picture this. A few wooden picnic tables pushed together on a deck so close to the ocean you could throw a rubber duck in it. Twenty plus people gathered on the tables, talking and eating. The final rays of evening sunlight splash across mason jars serving as pitchers and water glasses. Squeezed in next to the jars on the table are vases of wildflowers found nearby, and artful piles of driftwood, sea glass, shells, and sea plums. Plates piled high with stone oven baked salmon, mussels provencal, risotto from a cast iron pot topped with delicate purple edible flowers, and a salad of greens from the garden are sitting in front of the staff.
This scene is what I’m confronted with barely a few hours after arriving on Hurricane Island in Maine. In a single day of near-light speed travel I managed to fly halfway across the country on two flights and then two boats. I went from a midwestern metropolis to a remote east coast island. From a tiny apartment, bike rides to Indian restaurants and street festivals, a part-time job at a paper store, and a prospective summer of relaxing in the city, I am now about as far from that as possible. Now I live in an unfinished cabin lit by oil lamps only 10 feet from the ocean, an hour-long boat ride from the nearest restaurant. I’ll be spending a couple months working with a small team of twenty-some other scientists and educators giving students an incredible chance to spend a week on an island learning science and leadership skills.
It’s been an insane whirlwind. Truth be told, my emotions over the whole situation are way up in the air still from moving so quickly. As first impressions go though, I couldn’t be happier. I am simultaneously giddy with excitement to be welcomed into such a passionate, knowledgeable, tight-knit community and overwhelmed with the history, science, and scope of effort that is embodied in this island.
The meal shared that first evening drove home a feeling of community that I did not anticipate feeling so quickly after arrival. There was no homesickness, no regrets of making this last minute jump at a summer position with Hurricane Island. I dropped adventures to the West coast with a best friend, several months of time with my girlfriend after being away most of the previous year, family vacation to northern Wisconsin and easy hours of work with plenty of down time to do this job. Certainly, those are things I still want to be able to do, but I don’t regret choosing this.
As first impressions go, this is probably as good as they get. Last night I hiked to part of the intertidal zone with the other new staff and pretty much stood like and idiot in an environment I had never encountered in my life. I was probably wide-eyed and slack-jawed to anyone who took a moment to look at me. Being in the intertidal I just tried my best to absorb as much information as others were sharing. I attempted to suck in anything I could learn and use in the future to share with students visiting. There is a lot of learning and work to be done, but I am out of control excited about what I found myself doing. First impressions, check. Time to dive in.