Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Do Old Site Leaders Just Fade Away?

I recall an old saying: “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” Sort of like kettles, right? You know, the kind you get on a blue-sky day when the thermals are climbing higher than Jack’s beanstalk, and that big kettle you just saw has vanished.

Today was one of those days, still a bit early in the fall migration season to worry what you might be missing, and yet, that familiar tug on my psyche was there, urging me to grab my binoculars and heavily-laden backpack and climb that hill that has been such a big part of my life for more than 30 years. The daily routine that has come ‘round every September since I-can-hardly-remember-when is so burned into my biorhythms that I have to remind myself: You don’t have to go. You can go to other hills, other lookouts. You can pick the spot that might be the best under whatever wind/weather conditions might exist and go there. You can go for however long or brief a spell you wish. You don’t have to collect data, don’t have to do PR, don’t have to repeat the same explanations or answer the same questions over and over and over again every day, and you don’t have to wish for companions when you are all alone for hours and hours when other people aren’t free to join you. And you don’t have to add to your lifetime overdose of UV exposure.

You’d think that would be enough to thwart the tug, right? It isn’t. A couple of days ago the temperatures were in the 90s, the humidity was worse than oppressive, and the haze so thick you wouldn’t have seen a Condor twenty feet away. I have to admit that I was relieved that I didn’t have to drive the 30 minutes to the hill, and then puff my way up to the site. I was relieved that I didn’t have to stand there for several hours collecting that ever-important negative data and then returning home with mega eyestrain and picking the flying ants out of my hair. It grieves me that the watchsite no longer has a leader/educator/host/entertainer. Who will try to inspire those folks that climb the trail to see a beautiful view, and might have fallen under the spell of hawk migration were there someone there to show them? Not me. No longer. My tenure has faded away, but strong remains my connection: feeling that tug in the autumn sky, my heart rising to meet it.

1 comment:

  1. Susan,
    Its sad these things have come to an end, we in the southern portions of NE will miss your reports of what is in route. I will make point to visit the site on a future trip to the White Mtns.