By Jeff Wells
I have felt the cold sledgehammer of ice water closing in on my head before—that’s what it felt like to me when I plunged under the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean at Portland’s East End Beach during the Natural Resources Council of Maine’s (NRCM’s) Polar Plunge in 2009. That was a special occasion; I was participating as a way to celebrate NRCM’s 50th anniversary. I didn’t really think I might do it again.
Fast forward to 2011. With December 31st—New Year’s Eve—almost upon us, I have pushed aside my memory of that first polar plunge and am getting myself mentally ready for another dive into the waters off Maine’s coast, for NRCM’s Polar Dip and Dash.
I will heave my protesting body into the frigid Atlantic for three main reasons:
1) To raise money for a great organization—the Natural Resources Council of Maine—that is leading efforts to protect Maine’s air, water, and lands for future generations.
2) To help increase awareness about what is arguably the most urgent environmental issue of our time: global climate change. With so much coastline, Maine is especially vulnerable to the sea-level rise that is inevitable unless we take action quickly to address climate change.
3) It’s a wild and crazy thing to do! No wonder it’s on so many bucket lists! It’s also the kind of thing you can do regardless of age. In fact, why not make it a family event this year?
In fact, I believe so much in the importance of this event that I’m not only participating, I’m helping promote it! This morning, my thirteen-year-old niece Kerry and I were guests on Fox TV’s “Good Day Maine” show. Kerry will be joining this year for the plunge, and we had fun sharing our excitement about the event with viewers of this live television show.
Please join me in taking part in NRCM’s Polar Dip and Dash. You can do just the dash (a 5k run or walk from Portland’s Back Bay parking lot to East End Beach) or just the dip (the plunge into the waters at East End Beach) or both. Visit the NRCM website for more details, including registration.
Come join me and all the others who will be jumping into the water on Saturday! What a way to kick off a New Year!
Dr. Jeffrey Wells, a birder and scientist, is a Visiting Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology who works from a satellite office in Maine. He is the author of Birder’s Conservation Handbook and Boreal Birds of North America.