Sunday, November 21, 2010

memories and dreams: a blog post for Heather

In my blogoversary post, my sister Heather asked me to write about a favorite memory involving an animal, either pet or wild.
So here it is. :)

(these terrible pictures are photos I tried to take of my old postcards I bought in MA on this trip) Most of those who know me know that I have loved dolphins and whales from the time I was about 10 or 11. I collected figurines of all shapes and sizes. I had whale pictures on my walls. I had videos of dolphins swimming set to calming music. You name it.

And the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, my family went on a vacation where we camped up and down the east coast, driving from Virginia up to Maine and back. We did lots of fun things along the way, but my absolute favorite (for obvious reasons) was the whale watching trip we took off the coast of Massachusetts. It was amazing. It felt like a complete dream come true. And I loved every minute of it.

I loved being on a boat. I loved the sea salt spray hitting my face and the wind and the waves.

I remember the crew instructing us on how to call out whale sighting locations. I remember how they explained the markings on the flukes of the humpbacks and how they identify and track individual whales. At this time, I still had dreams of becoming a marine mammologist so I talked to the crew about how they landed this kind of job, taking excited tourists out while collecting data at the same time, watching whales all day long. I don't remember their answer exactly, but it had something to do with following your dreams no matter what. And at that moment, I knew I wanted to do that someday more than anything.

(Yes, well. And then I took AP Chem which I practically failed, and in which I actually threw my calculator at someone in class one day out of frustration and at that moment, I knew that perhaps hard science was not the path for me. More than anything, chemistry terrified me from then on. And guess what, one cannot pursue marine mammology without chemistry. And also, one cannot study marine mammology land-locked in Utah. Which is where I knew I needed to be. So. Life took a different course. So it goes.)

Anyway - we saw Humpback whales right up next to the boat, where the white of their skin appears mint green through the water. They slapped the water with their pectoral fins. They did dives with their flukes coming straight up out of the water and fluke slaps. They did spy-hopping where they just bob about halfway out of the water. And, most exciting of all, we saw one whale do a complete breach out of the water just as we were getting ready to leave. (We also saw some Minke whales but their behaviors weren't nearly as exciting)

(I saw a whale do this:)

So that is definitely my most favorite animal memory.

I still love whales and dolphins. For awhile I had vague and impossible dreams of incorporating my degree of Therapeutic Recreation into this love and doing therapy with special needs kids in the water with dolphins (they actually do this, for real). But I have absolutely no idea how to go about that one. And again, one must needs live somewhere along a coastline to pursue anything . . . in . . . the . . . ocean. haha. (And, I don't even work in my field. I never have. And I don't work outside the home anyhow. So. ummm . . . ) Now I mostly just dream of someday going to that place in Florida where you can pay lots of money to swim with the dolphins and touch them and play with them.

So - who else wants to share an animal memory?
Or, a dream of something they wanted to be when they grew up that hasn't (yet) become a reality?
Please share. :)


Mom B. said...

Thanks for bringing back memories of that fabulous vacation. That was my all time favorite!!

Christina G. said...

Here's a couple for you: My first camping trip was in Shenandoah National Park just after I got married. I was completely amazed by all of the deer that were everywhere all the time, especially the ones that insisted on eating right by our tent.

A few years back we went to Big Bend National park and I found myself laughing because I must have stopped the car a dozen times to let tarantulas cross the road.

Now, I'm helping my old dog through rehab after he tore his ACL.

Jennifer Pelo Rawlings said...

Here's an animal story. I have a dog, she is a several thousand dollar dog. She's also a mutt rescue dog. I would hear about people who paid lots of money to save their dogs and I thought I would never do that. Then when it came down to choosing to end a life over money I couldn't do it. She was not even a year old when she had her surgery. Then last year she had bladder stones which cost us another several hundred dollars. So, I can't say that I am a dog lover, but I'm most definitely not a dog killer.

Colleen said...

Whale watching is one thing we always meant to do during the year we lived in Monterey and never got around to it. Dangit.

Hmmm, animal memories... I wouldn't say that I have a favorite animal-related memory, but I will always be grateful that I had my kitties while Jim was deployed. We lived in a duplex at the time and it was nice when I would get home and have to go into an empty apartment to see my cats lounging on the couch. They're such chickens I knew no one was lurking in a closet or anything if they were unconcerned. A warm kitty is no replacement for a much-loved husband, but it's certainly a small comfort.

heather b. said...

Nice story, and thanks for answering my question! I guess I knew that was likely to be it :) The answers to your follow-up questions would require a lengthy comment, but I will share a funny story about this particular memory of yours: although I must have been excited about the actual whale watching, my most intense memory of pleasure and joy from that whole trip was getting to buy that whale hoodie at the gift shop (it appears in pictures throughout the rest of the vacation). I'm not joking when I say that not keeping certain articles of clothing like that one is one of my biggest regrets (although - ahem - I'm sure I wasn't in charge of that decision!) I'd give anything to have that hoodie, my Widewater t-shirt, and my little navy blue mary janes.

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