The only sadness that spring brings for me is the end of my Winter Wildlife Docent days up at Point Reyes. Today was the last day that I spent talking to visitors about whales and elephant seals and whatever other topics came up (i.e., hunting white-tailed deer, smart birds, the appearance of orca whales, the anger of those left behind to endure winter in Minnesota, the grace of being relocated to California from Cleveland, Ohio).
And what a day it was at Point Reyes. Not only were the whales passing by the Lighthouse (we saw eleven in the morning), but this year’s Elephant Seal weaners were playing in the surf, fighting and making their way out into the ocean that they will soon call home.
On top of those usual findings were an abundance of wild flowers, visits from many birds (Surf Scoters, Brown Pelicans, Common Murres, Caspian Terns, Peregrine Falcons), and brilliant vistas all around. Some unidentified fishes were splashing in Drake’s Bay. No one was able to identify exactly who they were since it was the first time anyone had seen them before.
One of the best aspects of being a docent up there is that visitors from around the world see California wildlife for the first time. Locals come, too, and marvel that they don’t go out to Point Reyes enough, perhaps spending too many Saturdays at home relaxing with their NetFlix movies.
On damp, windy days visitors may ask us docents why we volunteer to come up in this weather and stand around for hours talking to strangers. I tell them about the beauty and perfection of what we see before us. How the commitment to do this volunteer work makes us all come out here to watch the bounty of nature unfold. Many still don’t get it. Perhaps they prefer the warmth and comfort to the raw qualities before us here in Point Reyes.