[Sunshine on the cape]

I am sitting in Coffee Obsession at the moment, just a quick jaunt across the street from Redfield (the building I work in). It is a typical coffee shop complete with old fashioned coffee makers on the shelves and black and white photos on the wall. There is even a couple on a really bad first date a couple tables away.

I figured if I got out of the house I might actually catch up on this whole blogging thing. For those who know me, you probably are aware that consistency and commitment are not my fortes. As it turns out, blogging requires both. Figures.

So let’s get onto the things and the stuffs! This morning took me to the beach where I basked in the sunshine on a rare day of low humidity. The weather here has been a mixture of wet and dry but never cold. I’ve mostly enjoyed it but could use a few more days like this where I can walk around without becoming a sticky hot mess as soon as I get out of bed. Good encouragement to go swimming though!

Down the road from my house is Stony Beach where a lot of people go to swim and it makes for excellent people watching. I bring my book to read (currently making my way through Freakanomics though I realized a couple paragraphs in that I must have already read it at some point) but every time end up falling asleep watching a parade of swimsuits and skin. I went swimming with Stace there this week and she found an awesome whelk (kind of like a miniature conch). Note to self: bring snorkel next time.

And now for some catch up!

A couple weekends back, I was able to meet up with my friend Mandy in Martha’s Vineyard (HOLY MOLY, I just realized that vineyard is vine-yard…a yard of vines…mind blown). I met Mandy last summer when I was in Starkville, Mississippi doing a bioinformatics REU. Let me just say, she is a stand up lady and I am incredibly lucky to call her my friend. She is at MIT this summer making hearts out of lemons – it’s a bit more complicated than that but you would have to ask her. Not only is she a smartypants but also an excellent conversationalist and a joy to be around.

Dan and Tim came to the Vineyard as well and the four of us spent the day bicycling around the island. We started in Oak Bluffs (I was ridiculed by a local for calling in Oaks Bluff, don’t I know better? – oops) where we wandered around the streets looking at “The Gingerbread Houses”. Think Leavenworth style architecture on acid… but in a good way. Lots of colors, shutters, and carved eaves. It would be strange to live in one because tourists (aka me) would gawk and take pictures in front of your house all day. We biked on to Edgartown and the boys soon took the lead so Mandy and I were able to take our time and chat and generally catch up on each other’s lives.

At a swimming beach, Tim and Dan took turns launching me off their shoulders. There were some beach/lighthouse photos and then our stomachs demanded food so we found a great waterfront restaurant to fill our tummies at. We rode the ferry home later that evening and watched a magnificent sunset. The bow allowed us to claim it as our own and we stood in the wind as the flaming sun dipped to touch the horizon.

The next morning, Mandy and I once again straddled our bikes and peddled the seven miles into Falmouth where we were meeting Stace (my summer mentor) and her husband Steve. They lent us their kayaks for the morning to paddle around a harbor. Mandy had never been kayaking before (she is from Ohio, the poor landlocked little thing) so I got to teach her the ropes. For an hour or so we weaved our way in and out of buoys practicing our turns. We didn’t run into a single boat! Go us.

All too soon it was time to leave. Our arms were getting tired and Mandy had a bus to catch. Stace gave us a lift back to Woods Hole where we packed up before heading for a lunch in town. There is a taqueria down the road from my house – Quicks Hole – and their veggie burritos are indescribably good. They are my new go to food for bad days. Sometimes they also have music. I was there last Thursday and a bluegrass band was plucking away playing “My bucket’s got a hole in it”. Win.

Last Monday I had the opportunity to go out in the field with another researcher in the biology department. Joel is a soft spoken man who studies fish and their larvae. After hitching the boat to a trailer and sitting in some unexpected traffic, we headed up the cape to sample herring in two different freshwater lakes. To catch the planktonic larvae, we dragged a net behind the boat that had a meter wide opening. We did this in five different spots in both lakes and the result was very few larvae (it’s toward the end of their season) and a powerboost for my chaco tan lines. Bring on the Z’s baby.

My normal work has also been going well. Stace is an amazingly helpful mentor. I appreciate that she has been including me in her work outside of my project and I am getting a better idea of just how much time is spent applying for grants and writing proposals when you work at a place where you are expected to bring in outside money (hint – it’s a lot). My samples are well on their way to being sorted. Among a copious amount of copepods, I am also finding fish, shrimp, krill, and even something that may be a baby squid larva! It was adorable. This coming Sunday, all of the Hollings scholars will fly to Silver Spring, Maryland to present what they have been doing at their internships. I am excited to see the friends I made at last year’s get together again and look forward to hearing about their summer adventures.

Speaking of adventures…I never told the story of how I got home from the airport. At the beginning of the summer, when I got to SeaTac to catch my morning flight to Boston, I found that my flight had been delayed for an unspecified amount of time. I came to realize this meant that I was almost certainly going to miss the last bus to Woods Hole that evening. When they finally announced our three hour delay (sealing my busless fate), I was well on my way to chatting up a row of older gentlemen. I met Bill, a not-so-casual wildlife photographer; Clint, who had worked for the oil prospecting companies and then settled down in Montana; Bob, who told me to watch out because boys don’t think about the future and by the way he has a son if I ever want to meet him; Marty, who had a lot to say about the effects of technology on younger generations; and Steve, wonderful Steve, the only other member of our group under the age of 70. As it turned out, Steve works in Falmouth (the city Woods Hole is attached to) on an island reserve. He is basically the only one allowed to go out there without specific permission and invited to take me out on his boat sometime this summer – I’m looking forward to taking him up on the offer. His daughter Kate is my age (22) and was picking him up in Boston. They were kind enough to give me a ride most of the way to Woods Hole where Stace was then able to come get me to take me the rest of the way.

Kate turned out to be incredibly friendly (having met her dad, I wasn’t surprised) and we have stayed in contact. This past Friday, we went to Providence, RI where they have free outdoor concerts throughout the summer. The band was Joywave and the setting was a starry summer night in a park on the canal. I was surprised by how refreshing it was to be in a city again. I’m a small town girl at heart so Woods Hole does me well, but I loved being in the crowd, bobbing to the beat of the music, and seeing the diversity of characters that made their way to that spot at that time. Kate and I hit up the Cheesecake Factory after the show for some heart attack inducing deliciousness before making our way back to the car. I can also say that I have now officially met someone who is worse at directions that I am. Kate and I are quite the pair trying to navigate around a city but somehow we made it back to the car and home to Woods Hole again.

I am not nearly caught up with all of the good times I have been having out here but I think I will close now so I can go eat popcorn and watch a good movie on this Friday night of mine. My five housemates are currently out of the house and I must admit I am relishing in the peace and quiet of my couch at the moment. Six Maury Lane has become a hangout spot for game playing, reality tv show watching, and general goofery. Some of the boys from The Barn (another WHOI housing residence) have been slowly sucked into the Bachelorette Monday parties we have and I’ve been enjoying not having to leave my house to be social. However, the break from everything is very welcome tonight and I am off to enjoy it.

P.S. If you haven’t noticed, Pinterest is weirdly obsessed with zucchini recipes at the moment.

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