23 Jul TIME MAY CHANGE ME, BUT I CANT CHANGE TIME. MY SUMMER ON ISLE ROYALE
Featured photo credit: JIM BRANDENBURG/MINDEN PICTURES/National Geographic Creative
The snowshoe hare goes through a change every year from a bright white fur coat to a deep brown one. This change helps snowshoe hares blend in with the changing forests and avoid predation. The change isn’t sudden, it’s gradual, as the white fur grows darker and darker as less snow covers the forest ground.
Just like the snowshoe hare, I went through a gradual change throughout this summer season. You never see change, one day you just realize it. I remember my first week on Isle Royale I felt unconfident and nervous to ask questions as I didn’t want to seem overzealous. I was so far from home and felt homesick almost every day. Even though I felt like I would never get past these feelings I did. Each day became easier and I slowly grew with confidence. At the start of my internship, I remember in early May having to go out with Scott Trevethan a seasoned biology technician to look at bald eagle nests as part of the breeding raptor survey. I remember peering into the binoculars and seeing two white fluff balls in the nest. Part of this project is to keep updates on these nests, on our most recent visit this month I viewed those once small white puffballs as now large dark brown juveniles who are learning to fly. I often wonder if those eagles see the change, they went through in just a few short months.
As my days grow closer to the end, it breaks my heart to leave such a place that challenged me mentally, physically, and emotionally. I don’t think I can ever truly express the impact this internship has on me as it has prepared me for my future career. Not many people can say they have spent a summer learning search and rescue training, being able to see and handle live beavers in the middle of the woods, scale rocky shoreline looking for tadpole pools, bushwhack into isolated areas to just view osprey and eagle nests. Jumping into the cold water of Lake Superior or encountering an unexpected moose on the trail were just daily events for me.
In my first blog post I quoted what my mentor said to me before leaving for Isle Royale.
“The beginning can be scary, and the end is sometimes sad. It is the middle that counts.”
I thought of this quote almost everyday while I was out in the field. The quote is wrong though, the end is always sad.