Volunteer Comment

2008-10-01 09:41:33.000 – Summit Volunteer,  Summit Volunteer


As one of two volunteers here at the Mount Washington Observatory, I have spent this past week at an observatory observing the observers observe. This got me to asking, ‘just what does it mean ‘to observe.” The online dictionary (Dictionary.com Unabridged, v1.1) provided the following as one of the definitions of ‘observe’–‘to regard with attention so as to see or learn something.’ What have I learned in this time observing on the rockpile? n

nI have learned about clouds, barometric pressure, fog, wind, and rain, to list a few. More importantly I learned about what it truly means to observe. If there was a hint of a possibility of a sunrise or sunset, Brian or Ryan, the observers, would alert us. Sharon, the museum attendant, would take us to gather on the rocks and watch the sky as the pinks, oranges, golds, and blues emerged, the clouds and fog shifted, and the big ball on the horizon would slowly creep up or down. Often, Mike, the intern, and other summit workers would join us. A newby, like me, would of course, exclaim in wonder and awe at the colorful sight. Perhaps more moving to me though, was when I observed the seasoned summit workers–folks who have lived through hundreds of such sights. These folks would continue to gather for a glimpse of this spectacle as well–and exclaim in awe and remark on specific details with wonder. I tend to move quickly through the world and I have little patience for details. Yet, sitting with these seasoned observers, experiencing their awe and respect for the changing horizon, landscape, and environment around us, finding something new in each experience, my eyes were opened to the varieties of color, light, sounds, and textures in our world. In these daily spontaneous gatherings, I began to slow down and notice the details, and my awe and sense of connection to this world deepened. n

nDictionary.com v.1.1 provided another definition of ‘observe’–‘to show regard for by some appropriate procedure or celebration.’ Perhaps it’s time I find an ‘appropriate procedure or celebration,’ for taking the time to really see and show regard for this beautiful world we live in. n

nThank you so much to Brian, Ryan, Mike, and Sharon for sharing your home and your wisdom and insight! n

nSusan Gibson


Summit Volunteer,  Summit Volunteer

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