Puffin dreams

I’m not sure when I became captivated with puffins. Perhaps it was the cheerful bird on the box of “Puffins” cereal we ate when my children were young. Or it could have been the “Puffin rescue” episode of the Wild Kratts. However these mighty, tiny, colorful sea birds entered my consciousness, I longed to find a way to see them in their habitat.

 

Wild Kratts’ Puffin Rescue episode

 

Dreams are such funny things, especially for an adult whose mind is prone to interjecting all sorts of limitations on my dreams. While I dreamt of seeing the puffins, I never did anything about it because I had tons of excuses for why it wasn’t possible. And I was waiting for my fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and “poof!” a puffin would appear. Even though I really really really wanted to see a puffin, the dream never progressed beyond talking about it … because I was afraid of what I would have to do to make my dream a reality.

 

 

Do you ever stall in manifesting your dreams?

In other posts I’ve written about being scared of what lives in dark waters, and I don’t love crowded, loud sightseeing vessels. So I wasn’t exactly sure how I could see the puffins.  I could feel in my body that my fear was blocking this dream’s energy from moving any lower than my throat and heart-space. Our guts are the location of our willpower and motivation, and my solar plexus chakra had built a solid wall to block the progress of this dream. I could see it and talk about it. I could even express my passion to others, but I just couldn’t get out of my own way to make it happen.

But then I met Ray and Leslie Wirth from Water Walker Kayaking.

While chatting with Ray and Leslie about offering guided kayak trips from Limina’s beach, I happened to mention my love of puffins (which I do a lot).  Ray said, “we could take you to see them at Petit Manan. It would involve an open water trip but it’s very doable. And there’s a nesting colony so we’re guaranteed to see puffins.”  My heart leapt at the possibility and my gut clenched to hear that this might be possible.

 

 

Would I allow this dream to unfold or would I shut it down?  I could almost taste the words “that sounds great but we have a busy summer,” knowing full well that there were several days that would work before the puffins leave their nesting areas and return to sea. But the image of the amazing puffins chaotically flying through the air with fish in their bills and waddling over rocks filled my mind and finally overrode the “hell no will I kayak in open water.”

Out came my calendar to find a date and I began dismantling my blockage one stone at a time.

 

We could barely see the lighthouse on Petit Manan Island. Gulp.

 

So on a spectacular morning, with a forecast of sunny skies and calm seas, we drove Downeast to meet Ray and Leslie. After Leslie’s excellent instruction on paddling mechanics, and Ray’s safety guidance we were ready to go. A tiny pencil nub on the horizon was our destination – Petit Manan Lighthouse. I was so excited about seeing the puffins that I would randomly start hopping around and singing “IT’S PUFFIN DAY! TIME TO SEE THE PUFFINS!”

 

Preparing to launch

 

And yet I would look at the sea where my imagination spotted sharks, giant squid, orcas and ever other fearsome creature (loopy, I know.) Every time my gut would clench and I would start down the rabbit hole of dread and panic, I forced myself to talk about it. Even though I felt silly expressing my fears, I brought them to the light. I’m sure Ray and Leslie were choking back laughter as they patiently answered me:

“Have you ever seen any big sea monsters?” (only gray seals and they aren’t aggressive if we respect their space)

“Have you ever capsized? (yes and it’s no bid deal – you’re wearing a life jacket and we’ll help)

“What happens if I do? (TPPP: tuck, pound three times on the boat to ground yourself and alert others, pull the handle on your kayak skirt, and push out)

“What if I can’t make it the whole way?” (you’re in a tandem. Bill will be with you and we can always tow you if needed)

“Have you ever seen any big sea monsters out here?” (It’s Puffin Day! Let’s GO!)

Having surrendered these questions and more to these incredibly experienced and fun guides, and with the prospect of PUFFINS growing closer, off we went! My wall of blocked dreams had been breached with a whole lot of help from family, friends, and the experts.

 

 

Before too long, I relaxed and found a nice rhythm of paddling and marveling at the wild beauty of Maine. When we arrived at Petit Manan, I was giddy and awestruck and incredulous to be drifting among dozens of puffins. I just sat and soaked in all that I could see. It was such a miracle that I was seeing puffins, not just because of my fears. Like many species, puffins were hunted to the point that no puffins remained in Maine. But these special birds are extraordinarily resilient, and thanks to the efforts of Dr. Stephen Kress and National Audubon Society, there are now multiple nesting colonies in Maine.

 

Puffins in the surf at Petit Manan Light.

 

I can’t express how much it meant to live this dream. Turns out that my trick shoulder did give out on the way back and Ray towed us part of the way, which was a blessed gift to receive. I am so grateful to Ray, Leslie, Bill, Angela, and Charlie for all they did (and tolerated!) so that we could see the puffins. And I am so proud of asking for help and trusting that my fears could live alongside my excitement so that I could experience an unforgettable day of PUFFINS!

 

What a gift to have Ray’s help paddling back
HOLY SMOKES! We kayaked 12 miles!