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The Hawk's Nest

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A good work ethic

I have always wanted to work hard. Hard work is a reward in itself. In my attempt to gain that reward I have traveled to the Canadian Rockies, Europe, and driven across the United States, just to mention a few of the places this quest has taken me to do my work.

Let me explain my work ethic a bit.

In order to bring this column to you each month I have selflessly hiked mountain trails in the American West as well as British Colombia, and Alberta, Canada. This has required trekking through sub alpine forests to the glacial waters of high mountain lakes, some above the tree line, in an effort to bring to my readers, in photos and words, places they may never get to see.

I have sat on the shores of large lakes, reflecting majestic mountains, reaching thousands of feet into clear blue skies; feathery clouds cling to the cliffs and crevasses while I listen to concerts on the water’s edge, simply to share the experience with you.

I have wandered through the wind-sculpted rocks of Sardinia looking over sandstone-crusted islands protruding out of the indigo waters of the northern Mediterranean, just to bring it back to you in this column.

I have traveled from the Sycamore swamps of Virginia to the roaring waters of Niagara, sweated in the searing heat of the South Dakota Badlands and climbed to the chins of the presidents at Mt. Rushmore. Nothing requires too much of me, not even soaking in hot springs or celebrating the beginning of a new year in Venice.

So, it probably is no surprise to you when I say I have discovered a new challenge in my struggle get the perfect story to put on these pages.

I am going to apply for a position that will take me away from home for six months, but I’m willing to do that. The job is Island Caretaker on the Great Barrier Reef.

The job description on the web site reads: “The role of Island Caretaker is a six-month contract, based on luxurious Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a live-in position with flexible working hours and key responsibilities include exploring the islands of the Great Barrier Reef to discover what the area has to offer.

“You’ll be required to report back on your adventures to Tourism Queensland headquarters in Brisbane (and the rest of the world) via weekly blogs, photo diary, video updates and ongoing media interviews. The offer is a unique opportunity to help promote the wondrous Islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

“Other duties may include (but are not limited to) Feed the fish—there are over 1,500 species of fish living in the Great Barrier Reef. Don’t worry—you won’t need to feed them all.

“Clean the pool—the pool has an automatic filter, but if you happen to see a stray leaf floating on the surface it’s a great excuse to dive in and enjoy a few laps.

“Collect the mail—during your explorations, why not join the aerial postal service for a day? It’s a great opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the reef and islands.”

This will be a real opportunity to challenge me to exercise my work ethic. I will have to live in a villa on the island, snorkel along the white sand beaches and visit with folks who are there to play and, if necessary, play with them.

I bring experience to the job too. One of the duties listed above is explore the island. I have done that in Italy, in a couple provinces in Canada and many places in the United States. I even lived on a boat for a few years, which is like living on a very tiny island.

I will need to feed the fish; I’ve done that before. I called it fishing but in truth all I did was feed them my bait.

I’ll have to deal with the press, That’s easy, I am the press. In fact, I’ve been on both sides of that issue and know what to say and what not to say.

I have my own blog with my wife, have a photography business and am in charge of getting the mail when at home.

I’ve been thinking about the postings I would be required to make. Maybe they will look like this.

I got up at the crack of 10 and watched the tide go out as I drank my morning coffee. Left the office (my spot next to the pool) and walked lazily down the beach to assist some visitors as they looked for clouds in the sky from their beach chairs. At about 12 I remembered I had scheduled a meeting for lunch. Since it was kind of a power lunch, as opposed to just my usual working lunch, I put on a shirt. After work I sat alone at the table with a guest from some exotic place far away; we each had another glass of the vintage Australian wine left from the meeting.

In the afternoon, as I was snorkeling, several dolphins I had befriended earlier accompanied me. I left my aquatic friends and strolled to a vista near the villa where I live to share the coming of the evening over the reef with many of the tourists who look to me as their host.

There was a late dinner on the beach under the starry sky as the waves of the incoming tide splashed happily on the sand.  

Yes, I am willing to make a sacrifice like this in order to bring these columns to you. No, no, a thank you isn’t necessary. The hard work will be my reward.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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