The 30-day countdown begins for this blog's namesake: My big 6-0-dear! And life offers a brilliant array of possibilities, focus, confidence and newness. Aligned in the new column is my recent designation to serve as a volunteer docent for the Friends of the Elephant (FES) Seal on California's Central Coast.
This new life slice began in September when an advertisement caught my eye--an elephant seal sporting a red, white and blue Uncle Sam's chapeau and asking for volunteer guides. I applied on-line, noting my previous volunteer efforts, was asked to have some coffee and conversation at the French Bakery in "downtown" Cambria, which ended with, "You'll receive a letter soon that will outline the training schedule. Welcome aboard."
So, various experts in marine mammals, oceanography, local sea-life, ecology, and birding filled my head with magical visions and priceless information. The best elephant seal docents mentored me, I shared time with other volunteers who started this Friends of the Elephant Seals organization when the seals first hauled out on Piedras Blancas and humans were mindlessly running around these creatures on the beach (endangering themselves and the seals), and I now know fellow freshman docents.
Last week a raucous sea churned tons of kelp. Kelp hills lined the incoming tide line. I led spouse down and groused through the fresh kelp mounds looking at what I once saw as nothing but a pile of fly-attracting goop to discover a plethora of kelp varieties full of color, sizes, habitat and mystery. Saturday, California Sue and Janet were treated to another kelp show and tell. Soon, Janet was collecting pieces to take home. We talked about all the crafty things we could do with these samples of beauty. We headed north for my docent time at the elephant seal viewing point. I donned my blue FES jacket and began asking visitors if they had any questions about these creatures, that like the kelp, at first look like recently washed up do-nothing mounds of sea life, but when further explored harbor only just-begun investigation, all while California Sue lost (gained??) three hours and 129 photos of elephant seals.
Go to my Facebook.com page to view Sue's complete photo collection.
For more information about Friends of the Elephant Seal visit www.elephantseal.org. You can also write Friends of the Elephant Seal, PO Box 490, Cambria, CA 93428.
BTW if you are visiting the Central Coast, let me know and I'll be happy to give you more info about visiting the elephant seals.
Who are those docent mentors? Jim Brownell, Ann Grossman, and Bill and Pat Johnson.