by Chris Teufel Today I woke up to our second timed run-swim. I walk to circle ten minutes early to soak in the silence that accompanies the mornings here. As students and faculty begin to trickle out, a shape that somewhat resembles a circle begins to form around the flagpole. Today we have some special guests for morning exercise, the Alumni Advisory Board. Reminiscing and joking about their old run swim experiences, I can see they’re excited and determined to put themselves to the test. After exercise and a group stretch, we headed over to chores, me to the fishbowl. Breakfast consisted of English muffins, eggs and ham; the perfect sandwich after a heavy workout. After breakfast we have about twenty minutes to get ready for the day before heading to Research class. Making my way back to the dorms, I saw kids lined up to describe their Human Ecology project proposals, being the last day to propose an idea. In research (Sustainable Fisheries and Conservation for me), we do a run-through of our project introduction slideshow; assigning slides, adding pictures, and fixing spelling mistakes for Monday. After deciding to meet again to complete final touches on Sunday, we went over our research notes due that day. Since I was presenting, I gave a short intro and summary to the paper on the results of the implementation of MPA’s and NTMR’s in the Dry Tortugas national park region of Florida. I then led a discussion on the paper, which further provided a greater understanding of the paper for not only me but the rest of the class as well. To finish off the class, Kate, the head of our project, hands us all small slips of paper and we are told to memorize these lines for a poem we are now signed up to present on Saturday night’s Coffeehouse. This Coffeehouse concept took me a little while to understand and in case you’re not an Alum reading this I’ll break it down. First of all, it’s not actually in a coffee house, it’s in the boat house, with no coffee. But, there are a wide variety of talents and acts performed by students and faculty alike with everything from juggling, to singing, and whatever else people want to share.

After lunch, I headed to the boathouse to set up my dive kit for Marine Ecology class. Upon arrival, however, I was told by Ron that no one was going out due to extremely rough conditions just outside of our protected harbor. In the end, we decided to snorkel the reef balls which provide both an artificial structure for organisms and protection of the harbor. Snorkeling out, the current was strong, and it soon became evident we would have a hard time simultaneously snorkeling and writing on our dive slates with a negatively buoyant pencil. Rapidly scribbling notes on everything I saw, I looked to my left to find Peter, the head of Marine Ecology and our teacher, putting what appeared to be a peace sign above his head. It took me only a moment of confusion to realize he was signaling a lobster. And soon we were both peering into the shady ecosystem that was the interior of a reef ball to find four antennae sticking out, one pair accompanied by the head and upper-body of a large Caribbean Spiny Lobster. I soon realized that these structures were not all the same, and in fact the total slinking line of structures resembled a shopping mall of sorts, where you could peer into a store containing long spine sea urchins and west Indian sea eggs, only to find the next contained an assortment of damselfish and butterflies. When we were finally finished with our observation of the reef balls we continued back to the dock, and spent five minutes changing before returning to the library to work on our field notes. When the class period ended, kids immediately leapt up, some with plans to go to sunset beach, boy’s dorm, the fabled Marina Store, snorkel the cut or free dive at High Rock.

With a variety of options to choose from, I had decided to take a more peaceful route and headed to my Querencia spot located deep within the hidden forests of the clubhouse. I signed out my bike and headed over. When being constantly bombarded with a stream of excitement and information, it’s hard to remember how quiet things can get back there. I spent the remainder of my exploration time reading Omeros and listening to the sounds of the island before returning with ample time to sign in. At dinner circle, it was announced again that the sign-up sheets for both the Coffeehouse and Sunday’s plastic clean up were located in the dining hall, also, that we would continue the ongoing film series in tonight’s night class with a screening of “The Botany of Desire.” Dinner was a delicious dumpling soup accompanied by fresh baked pound cake, with a nutritious quinoa and cranberry salad as well as the typical salad bar. Since dinner was the last opportunity for project proposals, a line stretched from the tables to dish crew of students wanting to get their ideas out there. That night, the “Botany of Desire” was a film which led to not only an awareness of the heavily flawed American agricultural systems but also a thirst for fresh apples. During study hours, I finished my field notes and met with my settlement day group to discuss tomorrow’s goals and plan out our final video shots and interviews for our Mini Ethnography project due October 2nd. Peering out the back porch at the far-off lightning strikes, I waded through the mass of students doing nightly push up routines and made my way to bed.