A Whale of a Tale of the Tail of a Whale
Since Jean says that I
enough about Niskayuna's fine Parks and Recreation program, we opted
mini-vacation by signing up for its sponsored trip to Cape Ann. Though inveterate
The trip, led by our
Director of Recreation Nancy Tucker, began when our Wade Tours bus
from the Community Center at 7 a.m. last Friday. Our
group included several persons whom
I see regularly at the Center, some newcomers, and a few with whom I
renewing acquaintances formed years ago. Close-by seatmates were
Rose and Barney
Miller and George and Carol Evans. Barney, only recently retired from
used to run certain computer programs that I had written when I was
George I had first met when our sons played Little League in the 1970s, and I even remember the exact day. He was standing behind the pitcher serving as umpire of the moment. As my son Dan came to bat, I stood behind the backstop to watch the action. A pitch came in at what I still think was eye level and George barked "Strike one!"
Thinking that I was off duty
unrecognized, I yelled "Too high, ump." And George yelled back
"And so are my taxes." Since I hadn't been able to think of a
suitable riposte for almost 20 years, I decided to spend our three-day
punishing him with wordplay. My
first opportunity came when a tour
guide boarded our bus to expound on beautiful downtown
the guide, the body of a
well-preserved Viking had once been dug up near
We passed the former home of
Birdseye, the frozen food mogul.
From a high second-story porch, the master must have enjoyed his
Birdseye view of the harbor.
There are many fine older
Visiting the Sleeper home was
minute substitute for an intended visit to the
On Friday night, we had dinner at a place that advertised live twin lobsters, but when mine arrived they were dead. They were so embarrassed by this that they had turned deep red. The waiter asked me if I wanted a bib for my lobsters. I said no, but I'd like one for myself.
On Saturday morning, we
embarked on a
whale watch. The ride was pretty smooth, but every now and then the
to and fro with each gentle undulation of the ocean.
We had a swell time.
Seventy minutes out, the
on the predicted schedule. One, a
Finback named Wally, slipped me a fin to mention his name in the
column, but I
gave him his fin back. He swam away
with a younger whale on his back. I
asked him how he was able to do that and he answered "He ain't heavy,
The largest whales are larger
dinosaur that ever walked the earth.
Most of those we saw were Humpbacks. The
males of the species compose melodic
songs that are sometimes wailed in unison over a span of 22 hours. The melodies change from year to year
and season to season. How the
individual whales communicate in order to stay in tune is a mystery. How can anyone think of taking the lives
of such magnificent and intelligent creatures? Save
the whales. Save the wails.
The highlight of watching a
when it raises its characteristic tail high out of the water as it
five minute dive for food. I was
kidding about Wally, but many of the whales do have names.
They are given to them by marine
scientists who are able to spot the same individuals over and over
again by the
unique markings on the underside of their tails.
The dining room and all guest
the Twin Lights Inn where we stayed have a breathtaking ocean view. If you had been assigned to create a
universe, would you have thought of allowing the sky to change colors
minute? Would you have thought of
giving water just the right viscosity and wind just the right strength
the surf that slowly washes over brown rocks of just the right color to
complement the sky?
And in forming the rocks,
would you have
thought of making scooped-out indentations in them here and there to
little pools of water? And would
you have thought of gulls to glide quietly overhead, enjoying the
sight and sound of the surf as much as the humans who watch and listen?
The answer is that either you
or else your cosmos would not have worked.
This is the best of all possible worlds because it is the only
world. All things are interrelated, as witness the almost simultaneous
extinction of the dodo bird and the tree whose seed the birds
eating its nourishing fruit.
Such thoughts occur to all of us from time to time, religious and irreligious alike, and when they do, constitute the highest form of prayer.
George Evans loved
column, and even chided me for forgetting to include the
"blubber"" pun. So I
put it in here in his memory.
Sadly, he died a year or so
ago. My son Daniel and his wife
Anna Vendetti Reilly live on