Live Like A Hummingbird

When looking at the Ocean View’s schedule of events for the 2015 Summer, a large amount-- if not all--  of the programs take place outside, giving you an opportunity to get your hands dirty or have a rare
hands-on experience.  But there is an amazing program put together on Thursday nights called a “Green Screening”.  This program is a collection of films hand selected by Kim that provide different approaches, perspectives and opinions towards environmental awareness and the current situation we as humans have put ourselves in—whether positive or negative.

On the first official Thursday of Green Screening we prepared to watch the scheduled movie “Queen of the Sun”, a documentary about the role of bees and how their disappearance has affected the planet.  But, as we all know, technology does not always allow us our intended path.  Due to technical difficulties a last minute switch was made to the film "Chasing Ice".  This movie was built around a photographer who was fascinated and intrigued by the receding glaciers all over the world. Amazing filmography and scenery, let alone incredible scientific technology.  The second film was called “Dirt”, a piece on the importance of soil, how it is not only what is beneath our feet but is a vital part in what we do every day and overlooking it needs to come to an end.  At one point in the film a woman shares her perspective and includes an old story about a hummingbird, which I thought was one of the most important messages from the movie.


“One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest – the huge woodland was suddenly engulfed by a raging wild fire.  Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest.  As they came to the edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and powerless.  They were all watching the destruction of their homes.  Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.

This particular hummingbird decided it would do something.  It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire.  Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again.  All the other animals watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, “Don’t bother, it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.”

And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked.  Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, “What do you think you are doing?” And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, “I am doing what I can.”

 

This story alone shows how much one person can do, even if it is alone.  You never know who you might inspire and who might come along side you and help.  The environment needs our help and every one of us should be living like the hummingbird and do whatever it is we can.  For such a short story I thought it had a lot of meaning, bringing attention to the fact that just because no one else is helping doesn’t mean you have to sit back and watch too.

In this beautifully animated clip from Dirt! The Movie, Wangari Maathai tells an inspiring tale of doing the best you can under seemingly interminable odds. Join us at www.DirtTheMovie.org

I hope this story gives a little bit of motivation to your day.

                                                  When one tugs at a single thing in nature,
                                                            he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
                                                                                                                           -John Muir

Cheers,

Elsie D.




Setting Sail

Whether we were ready or not, Summer 2015 has officially begun.  The first rounds of bird nets have been set up and taken down, I sanded off my first graffiti masterpiece on the pavilion and the first full week of programs has passed.  If you had told me that my learning experience here was no where close to it's full potential yet, I wouldn't believe you.  Being able to work beside and learn from someone like Kim Gaffett is something indescribable and I feel incredibly lucky for this experience.

I suppose I should introduce myself to this new Blog experience that I have been offered.  My name is Elsie Drummond and I am from Kittery Point, Maine (Outlet Mall's and Kittery Trading Post are common landmarks).  I started my college journey at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island and completed my freshman year there and continued as a transfer student up at University of New England in Biddeford, Maine.  I entered college as a Psychology major and after a few weeks I realized that I might be going in the wrong direction, I missed the fresh air.  After researching alternative options I came across the major that let you learn about the environment around you and what our generation has ahead of us in terms of keeping it as healthy as possible.  It was right then that I filled out the Switching-Your-Major-Worksheet, I declared myself an Environmental Science student with a minor in Sustainability. Still with some school left, at age 20 I can confidently say that I have a passion for learning about our ecosystems, their inhabitants and their future.

It was with this information that my cousin, Jennie Ritter (now Murphy) sent me a link on the job that she had done a few years before, located on Block Island.  It was for the Ocean View Foundation, a name I had been familiar with for I had come to a bird banding program when I was younger.  After reading the job description and seeing how the foundation worked and noticing all the positive steps they were taking towards environmental awareness, I sent in a resume and gave it a chance.  Let's just say when Kim called me back, my excitement was unfathomable.  I was going to be the Ocean View Foundation's 2015 Eco-Worker.

 

 Race Week 2015 view off of  Dorie's Cove

Race Week 2015 view off of  Dorie's Cove

The week before programs started, Kim had described that it would be along the lines of a "Brain Dump" which was definitely a spot-on description.  Learning the schedule, getting familiar with each programs goal, meeting record-breaking amounts of new people and settling in made me very aware of how busy this summer will get.  On the other hand, it also opened my eyes to the fact that this is such a beautiful place and there are amazing people who have so much to teach and I should take advantage of every moment I have, and explore as much as possible.

The first program we had on Monday, June 22nd was the Wild & Native Flower Walk.  With about seven people participating in the stroll around the pavilion, Kim introduced and explained numerous new flowers and types of grasses.  The lawn surrounding the property had not yet been mowed, so the tall grasses seemed to shimmer as the wind blew across.  I had originally just walked past these tall, thin stemmed plants, but every strand that Kim pulled up to describe created a whole knew perspective on the field.  It wasn't a section of weeds anymore, it was a garden of overlooked beauty.
 

It wasn't until the end of this walk that the experience ahead of me was really put into perspective.  As people were starting to go their separate ways for the rest of the day, one man walked up to Kim and I and was explaining his interpretation on the program.  He showed great interest in the Ocean View Foundation and seemed adamant on pointing people in our direction.  Before he walked away he put his hand on Kim's shoulder and said:
                                  "Kim, you are a true wildflower of Block Island."
Right then was when I realized I am incredibly lucky to have Kim as not only my teacher this summer but mentor.  She is passionate about what she does and wants to spread the knowledge and experience she has in the environment, but also show how much we can learn from our natural surroundings.  

                  "Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt."
                                                                                                               -JOHN MUIR

Cheers to upcoming adventures,
~Elsie