Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Old Timer Gorilla

Last night was my first night conducting a bat survey for the summer survey season.  It was also the first night, in many years, where Brandon didn't come with me as my field technician.  After a few weeks in horrible field conditions during a previous survey season, a job nick-named by those who participated as "adversity training," where trucks got stuck in mud, lightning storms threatened lives, and all the survey sites involved hiking for miles through mud with heavy gear, he was less interested in giving up a summer of studio work for a summer job.  I tease my boss that she broke Brandon's spirit with that job, and he's throwing in the towel.  In truth, we have a menagerie of animals and gardens that can't be abandoned for days at a time, so someone needs to stay home in the summer, and Brandon is thankful to be able to dedicate the time to his studio practice.  

I miss spending the night hours with Brandon while we wait for bats to be caught in our nets, but working with someone new is fun too.  My new coworker is a recent college graduate.  

This morning, as I was getting dressed in my hotel room, I paused for a moment when I noticed my travel sized q-tip holder.  It's meant to be disposable, but I have refilled it many times over the years, and I keep it in my travel toiletry bag.  I paused because I realized that my q-tip holder is as old as my new colleague.  I've been traveling, with q-tips, for as long as he's been alive.  

I've noticed that recent work related documents refer to me as a "senior" ecologist.  When I participated in a workshop earlier this year, to learn about a new analysis software for identifying recorded bat calls, I made friends with the two young ladies that sat at my table.  These smart women were just getting started with their careers and marriages, and as we talked and got to know each other it came home to me that I might be one of the old timers now.  When we talked about work related stuff, I tried to keep myself from comparing everything to the way it used to be, like an old timer would do.  What happened to the folks that used to be the old timers?  Retired now, or worse, I guess.  If they are gone, then who the heck knows what's going on?  Not me, surely.      

Last week, someone even asked, while standing over my shoulder, "Rain, you're getting grey hair aren't you?"  Ack! 

Despite the all the jokes about mid-life crisis, and being over the hill, I find myself a little surprised that the signs of my maturity are surprising me.  Not that I'm forty - I still have five months in my thirties, thank-you-very-much, but it's no coincidence that I'm noticing all these things now.  Even my body is announcing to the world that I am a fully matured primate with life experience, and I have the grey hair to prove it.  If I were a gorilla, you could tell by my silver hair that I was quite successful at living, right?  

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