… on a party of five at sea

This past Tuesday, five women stepped aboard a boat and headed toward a dream.

Okay, that’s too flourish-y, too much.

This past Tuesday, five women stepped aboard a boat and I don’t know about the other four, but I got to realize a dream.

Sure, a little self-centered but hey, it’s me at the keyboard here. 

‘Dream’ seems so singular. It was more of a series of daydreams – inspired by a lifetime of National Geographic or other nature-slash-wildlife types of books and articles and documentaries. I’ve been a fan of puffins and penguins for a really long time.

Growing up outside of Boston, school field trips made it possible for me to see penguins in person penguin, at the New England Aquarium. Fast forward a couple of decades. I am sitting quietly on an Australian beach, the world bathed in the reflected light of a nearly full moon, my mind blown as I watch tiny penguins emerge from the Bass Strait after a day of fishing.

At first, there was a single one… then another.

Then there were pairs, and threes and then some waddles (oh yes, a group of penguins can indeed be called a ‘waddle’).

Once the very last penguin made its way over the dunes, our small human non-waddle (okay, a few of us waddled, shamelessly pandering to the penguins)… anyway, our small assemblage of humans walked, slowly and carefully, along a sandy and rocky path through their colony, listening to the little blue penguins’ surprisingly loud poems and conversations.

I couldn’t have wiped the smile from my face if I tried.

I’m smiling right now just remembering.

Years, ago… like a lot of years ago… like 2005, we bought this old house in Maine. Somewhere along Time’s line, I learned there were puffins here. Not, like, in the house itself… but in Maine (or just off Maine).

Why I hadn’t made the connection before then, I don’t know. I thought ‘puffins’ and I thought Scotland or Iceland or England or somewhere else where folks look out at the Atlantic from its other side. But it turns out there are two colonies of these little auks (yep, puffins belong to the auk family), just off the coast. As a matter of fact, the very first restored colony of Atlantic puffins (and other sea birds) hangs out on a seven mile island called Eastern Egg Rock, and that’s only about an hour and a half away by boat!

So when my friend… wait, I should change the name to protect the privacy of my friend.

When my friend… sPam… the person, not the canned cooked pork sold in over 41 countries on six continents and especially popular in Hawaii, which has the highest per capita consumption in the United States.


Anyway, when sPam offered to captain/pilot/drive (I will never get this nautical lingo down) us all to Eastern Egg Rock to see the Puffins, I was in. Add three more willing participants, and we were a party of five.

We showed up at the dock around 9:30 in the morning, lugging everything from water to cheese and crackers to Pop-tarts…

Aside: JoHn insists that, not only are Pop-tarts a real food group, but that they are camping and boating perfection due to their waterproof packaging and the fact that they are packaged in twos, hence no one ought to feel guilty eating both because they are in one package (which means eating one is not okay, because the other one would be lonely).

Anyway, we showed up at the boat with appropriate amounts of solids and fluids, and soon headed out to sea.

Like… literally.

Right out to sea (well, it was more like a left).

Talking and laughing and more talking (and a lot of thanking sPam for bringing us) and a little bit of me trying to read nautical charts (somewhat badly)… and there, through the haze, was Eastern Egg Rock.

And soon…

And then…

Of course, they are referred to as ‘clown birds’ on the regular… so it just made sense that one would realize I was shooting photos…

And moon me.

Oh yes.

I love them, these silly little (really little!) birds.

And you know what else I love?

That I live in a place where five friends can get in a boat and make our way out to see them. And ‘oo’ and ‘ah’ and take pictures and have lunch at a great waterside spot and make our way back, cheering and applauding that we beat (barely) the thunderstorm growling at us as we approached the dock.

We even saw one of those island-dwelling Labrador retriever mixes on the way home.



No collar! (I really wanted to rescue him).

Small wonders, close to home, are victories of sorts when the world feels a little too bouncy.

Joy victories.

Pass the smiles.

Thanks for readin’.

Comments and shares are always appreciated, and you can do that right here (well, not, like, RIGHT here… down there. See?). You can also join fellow ponderers over on the Just Ponderin’ Facebook page (there’s a bit of extra stuff too – from photos to observations to conversations. C’mon over any time!)


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