Kaya Pulz: Home

 

Kaya Pulz

 

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I throw open the creaky front door of my light yellow Victorian house. My bare feet leap down from my porch, covered with cracked white paint and sandy shoes. I look across the street to the dry field as my eyes follow the lime green frisbee that some middle-aged locals are tossing. I catch myself giggling as one of the men runs towards the wooden gazebo, yelling at the other player because she threw it too hard. My eyes glance passed the mixture of aged houses and newly built mansions, while I feel a sense of adrenaline every time I place my foot over a small pebble. The early autumn sky beats down on the small winding tree at the end of the road that I once thought of as a jungle gym. Then I stop, trying to work up enough energy to run across the steaming black road between the two beachside inns to get to my destination.

It’s off season here in Beach Haven, New Jersey. I hear no voices of humans, but faint screeches of seagulls and crashes of shoreline waves. I step through the fields of white sand and broken shells, as if I were sneaking past a sleeping lion, until I reach the end of the dry border of the ocean-kissed floor. While I watch the white ocean foam inflate and deflate from the rough wind, my feet descend into the soft, muddy ground as if I were trapped in this place of pastel blues and misty skies. I can smell nothing but salty seaweed and a slight touch of grilled chicken from the beachside houses. The warm feeling of the sunrays grabbing my bare arms is astonishingly comforting. The beach has always been my go-to.


For holidays, mostly Christmas, everyone on my father’s side, including distant relatives, would join together and celebrate on this beach. After the Christmas feast everyone would hurry to the frigid shore in our sweater dresses and ironed suits. Some would run into the ocean searching for sea glass, while others conversed about the poor horseshoe crab they found washed up on the sand, or maybe about what unimaginable desserts awaited us in the kitchen. With each gust of wind pushing past our ears, it was as if the beach were trying to spark up a conversation too. Maybe about how rough the summer was, or about how happy it is that we were all back again.
On the rare occasion that we would get a snow storm, I would be at the beach all day. I remember my father pulling my bright pink winter hat over my eyes because we were in such a rush to get started. As we ran out of the front door with our multicolored disk sleds wearing snow suits that resembled giant marshmallows, we would try our hardest not to slip to our deaths. The winter wind on the shoreline made me livid, but sliding down the frozen dunes face first was worth the frost-tipped nose on my face. Being so small at the time, I was drawn to the conclusion that I was sliding down mountains. As we descended for what felt like an hour, I would scream a scream that could shatter glass. Thankfully it never snowed too often, but when it did you would know where to find me.

Although the beach was an exhilarating place to be, it was also a place for me to run to when life was not the most enjoyable. Sometimes I would leave a note, sometimes I wouldn’t, but when my father knew I was upset he always knew where I was. I remember a time stumbling out of my house in tears, knowing nothing but the fact that I needed to be on the beach. I didn’t even care about stepping on all of the small pebbles. It was mid-Spring, which meant there may have been another person or two soaking up the sun and enjoying the cool water. I saw someone, but I could not let them intrude on my alone time in the place that taught me stability and restored my sanity.
As I sit here in the warm, dusty sand reminiscing about all the times I have had on this beach, a small sandpiper scurries across my view. As I start to stand again, the lightly colored, miniature bird soars across the ocean. I begin to wonder where it might be going or when it will land again. I continue to make my way to the mussel-covered jetties that my mother always warned me about, mostly because she thought I would slip on the mossy seaweed. As I stroll, I catch a strange movement out of the corner of my eye. I think it’s a wave, but as soon as I turn my head I see a silky grey fin arise from the rugged waters. I decide not to walk any further, but to imbibe the beauty of the local dolphins. Each one submerges in sync with the others. I watch the sun begin to set, as the vivid colors of pink and orange fill


the sky. The dolphins begin to swim away from shallow waters, and my view is like a Bob Ross painting. I look down at my sandy toes and find a full, palm-sized sand dollar inches away from my footprint. Each design amazes me. Every
moment that I spend here, I am amazed by something new. I realize that this place pulls me in as if I were part of the tides. My father calls me to come home soon, but I am already home.

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Kaya Pulz is a 19 year old student from Beach Haven, NJ currently enrolled in Unity College as a Sustainable Agriculture major. She plans to run a small-scale organic farm and further her studies in soils sciences. Her ultimate goal is to encourage sustainable practices and healthy living, so that everyone has the chance to experience the beauties of the world. ​

Alison Vilag’s Bonfires

Alison Vilag

Summer’s existence is debatable in the middle of the Bering Sea yet, even there, we continue her quintessential gathering: bonfires. We have to be resourceful—the island’s only wood comes from waves of Russian origin—so we resort to burning pallets that once supported the cases of Alaskan Amber we’re drinking. Your s’mores may be constructed with carcinogenic marshmallows but it gets the job done. 

Thursday afternoon, Halibut Girl Liz pedaled to A-Dorm and shouted through the supersize peephole once plugged by a lock. This is our most reliable form of communication, since she fails at dialing phones and I fail at answering them. Her arrival was a welcome distraction from the brow-furrowing task of how to best cook salmon (having been raised vegetarian, this knowledge is not intuitive).

“You wanna go to the bar tonight?”

“Sure, I’ve got tomorrow off.”

“We’re gonna have a bonfire at Staff Quarters after; Boat Boys are in town!”

“You know I’ll be there.” 

I solved the salmon problem with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of basil, shooed the Aleut boys out of our work vehicles (“You can’t be in there until you’re tall enough to reach the pedals!”), scrambled up the rocks above town, next to the diesel tanks. There I sat with my mandolin, journal, and a beer, watching the halibut boats come in. It was idyllic—the first day I’d seen the sun for over a month, the first time it’d been warm enough (i.e., 50 degrees) to wear just a t-shirt. The evening was calm, the harbor placid, glassy, reflecting green from the hills. 

By the time Liz was done sampling halibut, though, it was after 10:00. Any Thursday night in town, the bar could be open from 9 p.m. till midnight, but there’s a minor technicality: if there are fewer than 10 people inside the bar at 10:00, it closes. When we arrived, there were four—the Boat Boys, halibut fishermen I’d met a fortnight ago at St. Paul’s dance hall.

Tonight at the bar, Andrew and Brandon were shooting pool and Gary was desperately trying to find weed. The bartender was trying to get rid of us and go home; I gestured with a Sierra Nevada I’d swiped from Andrew towards the curling smoke across the road.

“They’re having a bonfire. We should go over there. I’ve got booze.” 

That’s all it took; their boat was registered as a dry vessel and they’d been at sea for two weeks. We walked back towards A-Dorm, Gary pleading with everyone—even young mothers pushing strollers—to please find him some weed. On paper, St. Paul is damp. That is, you can purchase beer or wine, but not the hard stuff. 

These rules don’t prevent anyone from drinking liquor. Just because you can’t buy it means little. We stashed my jug of Alaska Outlaw in Liz’s green backpack and waited behind A-Dorm with the Boat Boys, now 3. (Gary, still weedless, fell victim to a streak of sentimentality and decided the moment was right to send emails to his ex-women.) 

The aroma of burning chemicals led us around the harbor to NMFS the palatial white National Marine Fisheries Service building known to us only by its acronym. Inside, I finally met the enigmatic Sean, who I knew only for his pre-dawn rising (commendable in the land of midnight sun) and skill at enraging male fur seals (unfortunate, since his job hinged on not enraging male fur seals). This remains all I know about Sean, for he shook my hand, informed me it was cold, and then retreated—presumably to bed.

We continued out to the burning pallets. Beers were cracked, my whiskey began making the rounds. Halibut Liz tried to convince Brandon, an Alaskan native, that he was actually Samoan; when she failed, she instead taught him South Pacific war cries. Bobette, queen of seal pups and classless jokes, got so drunk she couldn’t stand up. 

Halibut Liz was struck with an irrepressible urge to show me the inside of a rotting warehouse near NMFS Palace. She grabbed my hand and led me to its yawning entrance. The sagging metal exterior housed an abyss of broken glass and questionable smells—the perfect set for a horror movie, I thought. Halibut Liz and I both forgot that I was wearing sandals. I promptly cut my toe, although I couldn’t feel it.

“It’s fine, my tetanus shot is up-to-date,” I reassured her.

We continued into the dark, and Liz handed me a hard hat and told me to hold my breath. She then opened a long-unplugged chest freezer. Its contents were mostly unrecognizable, but we could discern a knee-high brew of soupy reindeer remains.   

We departed hastily and decided that, having shared that experience, we should pee together and further cement the 

moment. Back at the pallet fire, the whiskey jug was still going around. Anthony—one of the Boat Boys who I’d spoken to twice that night, both times in ridicule, followed me towards NMFS Palace. He staggered a beautiful serpentine.

“Couldn’t pass a sobriety test like that,” I prodded, waltzing ahead of him. Next thing I knew, two rough hands grabbed my hips firmly, pulled me backwards. I ripped Anthony’s hands off my body and spat, “I don’t think so. That’s not happening. Don’t fucking touch me.” 

I marched back to the fire, seething.

  “He fucking grabbed me,” I told them.

It was an effective way to kill a party that should’ve ended long ago. I walked back toward A-Dorm with Halibut Liz and an Anthony search party. 

My whiskey and Liz’s bike were also missing—seems he’d been grabbing everything he could get his hands on.

The next afternoon, Liz pedaled to A-dorm and yelled through the peephole. She’d found Anthony swimming half-naked in the boat’s live well and interrogated him. They found her bike in the road in front of the cannery, salvaged my half-gone jug from a patch of grass. Bobette had puked during seal harvest, Andrew looked like death. Brandon—the biggest of the crew—had passed out on the deck, leaving his boatmates with the challenge of carrying him to bed.

The paucity of wood on St. Paul may be a blessing; if it were easier to bonfire, the island might not be able to handle the consequences. Being resourceful, however, we tend to find a way. Perhaps that’s why St. Paul has banned liquor.

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Alison Világ is has been studying Environmental Writing and Media Studies at Unity College since 2014. When school isn’t in session, Világ moonlights as a professional birding guide; her work has carried her to an array of far-flung places (Philippines, Michigan, Alaska.) Follow more of Alison’s work through her blog, Peregrination, and Medium.

 

“Bonfire” by Deanna Witman modified from source  “Image Drifwood fire 2” by Mike Fernwood; Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Unity Student Artist Ru Allen’s “Harvesting Unity”

Harvesting Unity

Ru Allen

Unity College student Ru Allen, an Art & Environment Major, embarked on a project as part of a Community-Based Learning class “Environmental Photography”. In this project-based course, students pursue a semester-long project that pairs them with a community organization of their choosing. Students hone their technical skills and vision in the medium while exploring the inner workings of the organization, as well as develop new relationships with individuals who are part of the greater community.
Ru found a perfect match in “Veggies For All”, a food bank farm in Unity that works to relieve hunger by growing vegetables for those in need while collaborating with partners to distribute and increase access to quality and nutritious food. Since its founding in 2007, VFA has provided 108,000 pounds of vegetables to more than 1,500 food‐insecure central Mainers and engaged hundreds of volunteers in thousands of hours of community‐based hunger relief. The Veggies For All program is part of the overall program offerings and initiatives of Maine Farmland Trust.

Allen’s work is currently on display at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery in Belfast through November 16th.

A special thank you to Veggies For All Director Sara Trunzo (Unity College, ’08) and MFT Gallery Director Anna Witholt Abaldo for making this possible.

Allen’s statement about her work: “Harvesting Unity serves as document and exploration of an issue facing many communities, that of food and people. My understanding of the relationship between humans and the land has been reframed through food we grow and those who grow it. Veggies For All (a project of Maine Farmland Trust) cultivates produce that goes to the food pantry in Unity, Maine so that those who use its services have access to fresh and nutritious foods.

Alternating between camera to my eye and hands in the earth, I attempted to capture as much of the growing process from start to finish in one harvest season. These images document much of the harvest and community interactions that lead up to a product ready to be distributed around the community. The time I spent in the fields and at the washing station made it clear to me how this organization’s success relies on the hard work of a few core members and a network of part-time employees and volunteers from the community. I am grateful that my presence was accepted and through this acceptance, allowed me to capture many different aspects of the harvesting processes. Surrounded by busy people, I found it an enjoyable challenge to capture their movements in ways that reflected the atmosphere and their individual behaviors. What I was naturally drawn to, however, were the suspended moments in places that were easily overlooked. Harvesting Unity reflects the spirit of a small community operation held together by work of people passionate for the land, the food they grow, and the people around them.”

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Building on poetry slam tradition @ Unity College

Robin MerrillPoetry Slam @ Unity College
On April 27th, Unity built on their budding poetry slam tradition with a rowdy show of student poetry. Six talented students participated, with Brian Fisher taking first place and the $25 cash prize that was generously donated by a member of the community. Judges came from near and far to hear these poems and score them subjectively, but the poets know that the points are not the point!


The evening opened with a feature reading from slam poet Robin Merrill, who will represent Maine at the National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California in August. Visit her at robinmerrill.com.

 

Unity College Students visit with local artist Kenny Cole

Unity College students visit with local artist Kenny Cole

Recently, as part of HU2121 Art and Sustainability Science Gallery Series students from the class visited the studio of Kenny Cole of Monroe, ME. He shared his newest project with us “Flood” which deals with a vanishing culture of Sea Nomads from Thailand and a discourse of both biblical and contemporary issues. Kenny will be showing this work later this summer as a solo exhibition at BUOY in Kittery, Maine.