Today is my last day of living at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center—my home since the spring of 2010 when I started working for North Cascades Institute as a Seasonal Naturalist. It’s also my last day as Chattermarks Editor, a post I’ve held since last September. Two big changes, and I’m not very good with change. I’m working on it. I know that the only constant in life is change, and I’ve become pretty comfortable with spontaneity over my past three years of teaching fifth graders in the woods. But bigger life changes are different from changing a teaching plan or trying to rein in unruly students. A year ago, when I wrote my first Chattermarks post as Editor, I knew this change was coming. I knew that eventually my year of living here as a graduate student would end and I would have to move back to Bellingham. But it’s still bittersweet.
Over this year I’ve grown as a student, a writer, a naturalist, a teacher…and so many other things. I saw my first-ever chainsaw carving competition. I’ve backpacked almost 50 miles in eight days with eight other people. I submerged myself in the ice cold glacial waters of Diablo Lake on my birthday—in January! I’ve seen a baby bobcat, heard barred owls nightly and pileated woodpeckers daily, and been woken up by thunderstorms so intense I thought the sky might actually fall on me. I spent two months on crutches. I wrote a children’s book about a science fairy who travels through space and time and I’ve journaled my way through three moleskin notebooks. I have shared more of myself with my cohort than I probably have with any other group of people.
Hiking from War Creek to Reynold’s Camp on day two (6 Aug 2012) of our summer backpack. Photo by the author
Looking back down into Pelton Basin as we made our way up to Cascade Pass on the final day (12 Aug 2012) of our backpack. Photo by the author
The other day we sat in Liza and Kim’s living room, brainstorming good things about moving back to Bellingham. We can go to the farmers market every week. We can have ice cream every day (and in more flavors than just chocolate, vanilla, and mixed berry). We can meet new people and make new friends. The grocery store, post office, and gas station won’t be 30-60 minutes away. There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to, and I’m excited about making new memories in the town I grew up in, with these seven amazing people I met last summer. Here’s to the next chapter in our graduate school adventure!Leading photo: A serene Diablo Lake. Photo by Liza Dadiomov
Ryan Weisberg is a graduate student in North Cascades Institute and Western Washington University’s M.Ed. program. Ryan grew up here in Washington, exploring the natural areas around Bellingham and in the Cascades. Ryan is the Chattermarks editor this year during their residency at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center.