Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Big Sur

   A friend and I recently, accidentally, visited the California Condor research and education center located in Andrew Molera State Park, in the Big Sur area of California.
    We were camping, looking for firewood, finding none, and thought we would try our luck at a horse ranch up the road. Walking toward it we saw an outbuilding that turned out to be the Condor center. A guy named David, who told us he couldn't help us with firewood, welcomed us in and asked if we'd like hear about Condors.
     Hell yes!
    David took us on a short tour of the facility and, in about five minutes, explained as much as he could about Condors, the cause of their decline, and the efforts that have been undertaken to rescue and recover the species. He had more pressing matters to attend to. There was a sick Condor in the back of his truck that needed to be taken to L.A. for chelation. (Yes, David was kind enough to show us the magnificent bird). He told us that lead poisoning from hunters' bullets is the number one cause of death in Condors and was the reason the Condor in his truck was sick. But, he said, this is good news because removing lead from the environment can be done.
    David explained that a piece of legislation banning the use of lead bullets for hunting, AB 711, had been passed by California's legislature and was awaiting thgovernor's signature. He went on to show us effective pictures of soaring Condors and a deer's body cavity coated in a "storm" of lead dust after a bullet had exploded there. We looked at a graph of the Condor population before and after captive breeding and reintroduction in the wild. My friend asked all the right questions. I mostly stood there and smiled.
      Two days after our visit, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 711 into law.
     Last night I dreamt that I was teaching again. My students and I were on a field trip, standing in the middle of the California Condor center, listening to David. The kids kept interrupting him, and each other, to ask good questions. I remember the sensation of smiling at them in the dream. I think that woke me up. I was still smiling. I wondered, for the first time since I quite teaching three years ago, if I could go back to it.
     Who knows? Right now I just feel lucky to be part of this random world.

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