Last week we went to Pemaquid Point, marking our second Field Lab of the semester. Our last Pemaquid trip, just over a week ago, was stormy and windy, with ominous, dark clouds covering the sky. But, if you’re thinking, What awful weather for a field lab!, think again. Even though by the end of our trip I was admittedly a little chilly, I couldn’t think of a better use of a rainy day than observing this wet ecosystem with the sound of crashing waves just 20 feet away. (The rain pants did come in handy, however.) While squatting with my friends on a wet rock to compare fucus vesiculosus to ascophyllum nodosum–which prior to Chewonki I may have referred to as “boring old seaweed”–I remember thinking, This is the coolest science class ever.
I was never a big “science person” at my sending school, but after just a few classes with Megan, Lucy, and Chloe, my entire attitude towards science has shifted. I can now identify trees, recite the Latin names of seaweed, and already know more about geology than I ever thought I would–all from learning, observing, and having fun with friends outdoors. I have never valued the power of attentiveness and appreciation for the natural world more.
I couldn’t wait to return to the rocky, rough shores of Pemaquid, so imagine my surprise when we arrived at Pemaquid Point and I barely recognized it–the sky was a clear blue, the ocean calm and inviting, and the tide so low we could walk all the way to the tip of the point. What a contrast to the huge waves and grey skies of just a week ago! I had already learned quite a bit about the change in this ecosystem simply by stepping out of the van. Megan invited us all over to gather and observe the multitude of species that call a large tidepool home, and I was so eager to see these species that I got a little too close and slipped right into the two-foot tidepool, bottom first! Lucky for me, my slip into the cold water happened on our hot and sunny trip to Pemaquid; my friends and I laughed and made jokes about it for the rest of Field Lab.
We soon divided into groups to study new species more closely. I couldn’t believe how many things there were to notice once I looked closely. As my friend Stella and I squatted on slippery seaweed to observe the species in our quadrat (from Sea Lettuce to Irish Moss to Baby Blue Mussels), we relished the excitement of jumping up as waves rushed onto our rock.
It’s amazing to me that we have not even been here for two weeks yet, because I feel as though I have known Chewonki and the people here for months already. The classes are inspiring, the place is beautiful, and the friendships I have made are incredibly genuine and ones I am sure will last a lifetime. On the drive back, I couldn’t help but notice that returning to campus felt like returning home.
Julia Demeny, The Nightingale-Bamford School, Long Island City, NY