Sunday, March 9, 2008

Back to base: Alladale wrap (for now)

Well, we're safely home. After about 24 hours of uncomfortable, sweaty, cramped, miserable travel, and a dodgy night-time drive through a heavy early spring rainstorm, our very own farmhouse and barn loomed out of the clag, and all we had to do, thanks to Devin the house-sitter (and forestry student) was to swerve into the parking spot, stumble through the mud with the bags, check once on the animals, and fall into bed. An early morning inspection revealed that the homestead had indeed survived our absence, although our poor hoophouse seems to be not quite all there, due to a minor avalanche. But that's another story, for the other blog.

Now our task is to muddle through life for a few days and to try to begin to integrate everything we;ve learned. With so much to puzzle over, this job may actually take years. Of all the gifts that a science and social science career has given me, insight is perhaps my favorite, but good insight takes time, and peace and quiet, to develop.

We will be thinking about our amazing trip to Alladale for the rest of our lives. Which is, I'm sure, what Paul really intends, if he thinks about it, so his project is a full success and it's only just begun.

A very big and public thank you is due here to all the folks who made this very valuable trip happen.

At Alladale, we owe a tremendous round of thanks to Paul for having the vision and foresight to invite us over, and for having the vision of Alladale in the first place. At Unity. Rob, Mitch, Amy K, and John Z were willing to suspend their disbelief and let me do my thing. Rob provided half the expenses, the rest were borne by the Womerlippi and Darcangelo families.

Back at Alladale, many, many thanks are due to Hugh, Neil, Innes, Poppy, Ben, Sarah, Patsy, Lydia, Kenny, and all the staff for hosting us royally. Scientists are not used to such good treatment, so we're easy customers, but we also thoroughly enjoyed our interaction with the Alladale staff. Thanks also are due to Nick (Yellowlees), Robert, Toby, Adam, Sam, Genevieve, and others involved with Alladale, and ENT, as trustees, London staff, and supporters. David McDonald and Chris Sandom were our science touchstones, and we are very grateful for the excellent collegiality they showed, and tolerance of our questions, which we hope were hard, but not harsh.

The other, real, Alladale guests were very tolerant of our science intrusions into their vacationing, but we also had some amazing conversations with amazing folks who probably prefer not to be named on the Internet.

It looks like we get to return the favor in part with a visit to Unity from Hugh later next month, so we are especially grateful for that, which will help us tell our part of the story, and so we are looking forward to having him meet Unity students and faculty. We couldn't ask for a better wrap up and continuance than that, so I'll finish now.

To everyone, our very best regards and take care.

Yours aye,


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