Wildness.

I can go home now. I saw penguins yesterday.

Penguins swimming. Penguins waddling. Penguins doing what penguins do, all where penguins normally do things.

And geese! and cormorants! and albatrosses! and petrels and terns!

Even skuas, those mobsters of the ocean, of whom the guide said “They’re really aggressive.” The Rocket Scientist, who encountered them in Antarctica, calls them “seagulls on steroids.”

Three types of penguins, too. Magellanic, the most numerous; Gentoo penguins; and King penguins, which look sort of like the Emperor penguins’ smaller brother.

And sea lions too, but they looked a lot like the sea lions that hang out on the pier in San Francisco.

And drumlins, too, but those are geographic features, not birds.

Wildness.

There are mountains beautiful beyond belief, with snow and glaciers. You can tell that you are at “fin del mundo,” as they have on their tourist trinkets, because it is high summer and to snowed in the mountains last night. (We’re closer to sea level, so it only got down to 41F for us.)

Reading my Birds of Patagonia book, I see over and over that climate change is a threat to some of these birds existence. It is only going to get worse — the guide yesterday mentioned how much the glaciers had eroded. (The other major threats appear to be animals such as cats and rats, and for a lot of marine species, longline fishing.)

This special place will disappear, as the earth warms and the glacier melt away. The species vulnerable to climate change may go extinct.

I’m glad I got to see all of this before that happens.

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