The moments that get us through

Submitted by David Crass (David.Crass@dnr.state.ga.us)

Like most of us who have done archaeology on Sapelo Island, I always have felt privileged to work there. Hog Hammock community, the Reynolds Mansion, the Lighthouse, Long Tabby, Chocolate Plantation—all help to create a unique context for fieldwork. My most magical moment on the island, however, didn’t involve archaeology at all. Some years ago I was on the island to do some survey work, and was staying in a little shack affectionately known as “the Duty Station” (or maybe it’s Doody Station). The Duty Station abounds in various arachnids and other forms of life that are composed primarily of exoskeleton and teeth. At about 2:00 AM I got tired of coexisting with them, grabbed my pipe, and headed out the door for a little dock on Barn Creek, which runs along the back side of the island. The moon was beautiful: full, and casting that odd bluish-white light you see sometimes on the coast. As I stood there puffing contentedly away at my briar, I heard a series of loud exhalations, at intervals of perhaps 30 seconds or so, coming up the creek. They got progressively louder, and were accompanied by quite a bit of splashing.

And then I saw her under in the moonlight: a mother bottlenose dolphin and her calf. Mom was teaching the little one how to drive schools of fish up against the creek bank. The calf stuck right by Mom as she herded the fish into the shallow water, and then they both swam in, munching happily away.

I like to pull that moment out and replay it when I’m stuck in a seemingly endless meeting, or filling out one of the myriad forms that apparently form the basis for so much of what we do. It reminds me of how lucky I am to be part of an organization made up of folks who, however imperfectly, try to ensure the survival of both our past and the natural world that brings such beauty and grace to our present.