I just spent the most fantastic week at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, as part of a fellowship for journalists. You can see Woods Hole at the southwestern tip of the cape, just across the water from Martha’s Vinyard (which does not have a vinyard and has nothing to do with Martha Stewart — two of my previously held misconceptions).
Woods Hole is a science mecca. In the summer, researchers from all over the world — including quite a few Nobel laureates — descend on the place like flocks of pigeons. They conduct experiments, they mingle, and they drink. Oh boy do they drink.
I was there for 10 days with six other journalists learning some of the techniques that scientists use in the laboratory — techniques with impossibly complex names, like gel electrophoresis and polymerase chain reaction. It was the most fun I’ve had in a really long time. Turns out I really enjoy fertilizing sea urchin eggs, pipetting antibodies, and staring at tiny creatures under the microscope. Though I must say that snipping the heads off squid with a sharp pair of scissors makes me a little squeamish.
Here’s a sea urchin embryo image that I took by shoving the lens of my point-and-shoot up against the eyepiece of one of the microscopes. How cool is that? (Answer: Very cool).
And as if really cool science isn’t enough, Woods Hole is beautiful and the weather was perfect the entire time I was there. For ten whole days I skipped around town in t-shirts, warming myself in the sun, smiling my face off, and huffing salty sea air.
Then I came back to New York. The bus dumped me off yesterday. It was cloudy, and I had to fight my way through throngs of idiotic tourists outside Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and Mary Poppins to get on the subway. The Woods Hole glow faded, my brow furrowed, and I found myself f-wording this and f-wording that. (Seriously New York tourists, don’t stop mid-stride to whip out your camera and snap pictures. Pull off to the side of the sidewalk, out of the way of normal people who have to live here. And you wonder why New Yorkers seem angry and mean.)
Ah, the infuriating hustle and bustle of New York. What can I say? It brings out the best in me.