Gib Finney’s sequel to THE POWER OF UN
Life as an Anemone
7 March 2008, Finney @ 5:46 pm

We will get back to the gripping tale of Donald D. Frog before long, particularly since, in a weird way, I wouldn’t have much to tell you without him. I mean, excuse me for thinking the way I have ever since the whole thing with the unner, but if that crazy little frog hadn’t thawed out in my bedroom in the middle of winter, Rainy and Ash and I wouldn’t even be thinking about going to Antarctica.

As previously alluded to, I and the other Musketeers (okay, and my dad, too) traveled to Monterey, California a few days ago to meet the other members of the Antarctic expedition. I do not feel especially great admitting this, but up until then, I had never seen an ocean before. Ash’s grandparents live in Florida, so he had seen the Caribbean. And Rainy’s parents took her to Disneyland a couple of years ago, and they all went over to the beach. But me? No way. This is the problem with having a mother who owns her own hardware store and a father who owns his own bookstore. Most people would think it is a great situation, because they are the bosses so theoretically they can ditch work any time they want. But “theoretically” is the operative word here. Both of them are working maniacs and never want to close their shops because then they would lose business. Result: I am half grown up before I get to see the ocean.

But that is all in the past. I am pleased to announce that I have now not only seen the Pacific Ocean, I have touched it, too. And it is C-O-L-D. Monterey is only a couple of hours south of San Francisco, which is pretty far north on the California coast. Rainy says the water is a lot warmer down in Southern California where Disneyland is. I am here to tell you that the Monterey Bay is cold enough to make your toes ache. Dad took us over to Point Lobos, which is way cool, and I am not just talking about the temperature.

We saw things there that I had barely heard of. In the distance, we saw the dark heads of harbor seals rising and falling with the waves. There were whole underwater forests of kelp, this weird sea plant that looks like it came from some other planet, seriously. Here is my dad holding the biggest piece we found, which we later used for a jump rope. That thing in the picture next to him is an anemone, which I think looks even more alien than kelp. If you touch an anemone, it will close up and look drab and ugly. They live in the tide pools where the waves are always trying to tear them loose from the rocks.

When I said it looked to me like anemones live a pretty tough life, Rainy got this sort of wingnut look on her face and said, “The way anemones live their lives is noble. I would be proud to emulate an anemone, looking magical even while holding on for dear life.”

I figured “emulate” must mean something like put an amulet around its neck, if you could find its neck. But later, Dad told me it means “imitate.” Rainy would be proud to imitate an anemone? Too much excitement at the beach, in my humble opinion. Maybe Dad thought so, too, because after that he took us to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we saw even more weird ocean stuff, but indoors, where Rainy got a little calmer.

So, I started this entry thinking that I would tell you all about the meeting with the scientists at MBARI, which was also exciting, but then I got sidetracked by the ocean. I will make a separate entry about the meeting later tonight. But just to give you a little flavor of what’s coming, the bad news is there won’t be robots on the icebreaker after all. The good news is there’s so much other totally excellent stuff that I’m pretty sure we won’t miss the robots at all. Plus, I am going to be in the bird survey! Do not laugh. It is totally awesome.