Friday, May 11, 2012

Greater Than Zero

Still too hard to sink.    (Janice Antill)
The 6 tons of handpicked grapes are now sitting in there vats bubbling away and slowly converting sugar to alcohol.  The color deepens and a leesy smell takes hold within the insulated container.  The Carbon Dioxide released during the ferment becomes so strong in the small space that it is enough to knock you out cold.  It is not uncommon for a vintner to accidentally end up head first in the brew after being overcome by the oxygen replacing gas.  We always stomp in pairs, just in case.  As the grapes get further along they require a heavier foot in the mix and eventually about half a body.  Twice a day someone must throw on a pair of toggs (swimsuit) and drop into the drink for a full on mash up of the floating berries.

Now the plunge  (Janice Antill)
A bit like the berries, I have come to New Zealand raw and ripe with potential.  Thrown into the pot here with the whole bunch I am looking for a way to convert that potential into something productive.  A few days ago,  and through the efforts of my wwoof host, I was given the chance to talk with a few classes at a local high school here.  I talked about where I had come from and why I love biology.  I gave them information on the work I had done in school and since graduation.  Most people are happy to talk about turtles and sharks but these were some very bright kids who wanted to quiz me on everything I had done from the Cyanobacteria lab to Alaska to wwoofing.  They were genuinely interested in it and all brimming with insightful questions and creative ideas.

(Janice Antill)
I regret only the things I have not done in my life.  One of the biggest is for never having pursued a teacher's assistant position while at the University of Oregon.  Now I have the chance to try my hand in a teachers role and to help these young Kiwis follow their own passions.  I am so happy and excited at the prospect of inspiring young people to see the wonder and amazement you can get from biology if you are only willing to pay attention.

I have always planned to go into teaching at some point but figured I would go out into the world while I was younger to get experience that would enrich the rest of my life before settling down and sharing those experiences in the hopes that they might inspire someone else to enrich their own life.  If we experience new things when we are young, we then have the rest of our lives to process and to use that knowledge for the better, while experience after youth is still advantageous you are left with less time to put these experiences into action.

"Everything you ever sense, in touch or taste or sight or even thought has an effect on you that's greater than zero."
~Gregory David Roberts~

Valentino the Winery Cat   (Janice Antill)

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