New England

“First Impressions”

Hurry up and wait. That seems to be the theme for today. New England Institute Day One: it was an early start, with everyone arriving at the airport at 4:15am, or thereabouts. Though bleary-eyed and caffeine-deprived there is excitement in the air. We are all anxious to smell the salty air and catch our first glimpse of the island. The learning-about-each-other process begins as we share stories and talk about the things we are most excited to see. We talk about the families we leave behind, the school year we just completed, the travels we have taken or want to take. As the miles pass under us, we start to feel more and more like a cohesive group. We are in this together. To learn from each other and from the lands we are about to explore.

By mid-morning we landed in Manchester, New Hampshire and drove east to Portsmouth. Then we lunched at the Portsmouth brewery. Some enjoyed chowder or sweet potato soup while others dined on fish sandwiches and fries. With our bellies full we headed to the dock and the ferry to our destination — Appledore Island, Maine. We shared the bay with cormorants and black-backed gulls and motored (in the heat of day) towards Shoals Marine Laboratory.

We weren’t on just any old ferry, we arrived today with the weekly food shipment. Once we docked, a human conveyor belt of more than 50 people formed to make the unloading process work smoothly. It was quite a sight to see the wide assortment of cargo make its way up and over the rocky shore — boxes of kale or eggs; mattresses and luggage — all passed from hand to hand. All this took place in the midst of multiple pairs of very large and alert nesting gulls.

After a gourmet dinner on the patio, we learned about the geologic and human history of the Isles of Shoals (specifically Appledore Island and Shoals Marine Lab), presented by Drs. Hal Weeks and Jim Coyer.

As the sun set in this postcard-like setting, which we are actually a part of, we observed a few moments of silence to take it all in. The raucous calls of great black-backed and herring gulls descended upon our ears. Words cannot describe the beauty of this island!!

The sun sets on Shoals Marine Laboratory.

The sun sets on Shoals Marine Laboratory.