Ahh. My late wife worked with plovers when she was a ranger with the national park service at gulf islands national seashore park. She also volunteered regularly with the Delaware shorebird project. She could go on and on ad naseum about how critical the Delaware bay was for them. One summer she rotated out of Gulf Islands to work a park in South Carolina I think. I happened to be visiting her for a couple days. I roll out of bed one morning, open the door of the trailer we are in and see her sprinting across the beach as a truck races down the shore directly at her. She plants herself feet spread wide, arms held high, right in the path of this thing as four angry, drunk rednecks hoot and holler from the cabin and truck bed. They did stop and turn around. I guess the site of her badge spooked them but later I asked her what the fuck she was thinking. “I wasn’t gonna let them run over that nest.” She said calmly. The courage that took. And for what to save a few baby birds eggs. I mean holy shit who does that. I later learned it was the first summer that the state or federal government had banned cars/trucks from driving on the sand. You would have thought the poor citizens of the area had been stripped of their God given rights to drink Coors and chew tabaccy. Victoria and other park service employees were verbally harassed at local business establishments and her work truck (government property)was vandalized on more than one occasion. The locals made a bumper sticker with a shorebird framed by a gunsight. Of course the good guys had one too but it was like the Hatfields and Mccoys that entire summer. God I still miss her so much most days and the days I don’t I beat myself up over it because I feel guilty for forgetting. Remembering her at her strongest like this is a double edged sword. My thankfulness for the short time we had together is a comfort but it is a cold comfort because fuck it I didn’t do enough to protect her. My most important role as her partner in life was to keep her safe and guess what I failed. Grade F. I was just not strong enough. I was weak. I don’t see how a person can ever forgive themselves for that. I am so sorry Heather. This is a really sweet post you wrote. Thank you for the memories it provoked. Me cry now.

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Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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