|Stork Nest at the beginning of summer|
I mark each summer here by the storks. I eagerly wait for their return in late spring and watch for them rebuilding their nests. It is always amazing to me that they can perch their huge nests on top of telephone poles and chimneys, but they do. There are 6 or 7 nests between Gostivar and Skopje that I have documented, and all summer I have watched their development: return, eggs, hatching and growth. As the babies get bigger, they perch on the side of the nest waiting for their parents and food. Curiosity and bravery doesn't always pay off - if the babies fall from their high perches, they are doomed by their vulnerability and inability to fly. But most make it and this year several of last year's babies returned to build new nests.
Last week was also the Close of Service conference for my group, the Mak 14's. We met for 3 days in Struga to talk about the technical side of ending service, and to select when individuals would actually leave for home. Since I am extending for another year, it wasn't quite relevant for me yet, but it brought into focus that very soon most of the group I came with - my American family in Macedonia - will be gone. Peace Corps spaces out times when people go, and the first three, two of whom were in my training group and one of whom is my site mate Jane, will be leaving the end of October. I have many friends in the next group, and expect to make more in the new group that's arriving in just a few weeks, but there is a special bond with your own group that can't be replicated. I shall miss them and the easy camaraderie.
The question we are all asking ourselves: what should I do when I grow up? I'm still wrestling with that - all suggestions welcomed!