Are you a diligent reader of this blog? If so, then you may remember a few months back I made a visit to Virginia and DC. If not, that’s ok, welcome new visitor! Now, go read, “A Change in Perspective“, written during that trip. The reason was simple: My nephew is awesome, and he was celebrating his 1st birthday.

The scenario now is a bit different. I’m in a darkened hotel room (afternoon nap time) in Portland, Maine, with the same great family and a much larger (and now running) nephew. They are here for a scientific conference, and I’m here as, yes, babysitter. Sure, it’s a long flight (two, in fact), but what’s that for friends who are like family?

Part of the time has been spent walking around Portland. It’s really a beautiful town, with old buildings carrying a new vibrancy. The people exude youth, hip, and a social consciousness far beyond south Florida (we’re getting better!). Many restaurants feature vegetarian, vegan, and sustainable choices. And of course, there’s the seafood…lobster, clams, and fish of all kinds, well, more so the cold ones. Truthfully, only the cold ones. It’s freezing here.

Ok, ok, to the point.

Down by the water, there are fish markets, commercial operations, and…a local dive shop. As a Floridian, I would be considered a dive snob…warm waters, good visibility (clear water), calm seas, and easy access to the rest of the tropics. They have none of those qualities here, yet here they are, flourishing for over 30 years. How? Because there is always something special. Cold water sea life is very different from the tropics, though no less impressive. Corals and sponges grow more slowly, but to even greater sizes. Fish are more bulky and lumbering, yet come in shapes and colors I could never find in the Bahamas.

Just because the way you know is your favorite, or even the accepted ideal, realize there is always an alternative view. Sometimes, those can be just as impressive and expose you to concepts never before considered.

Of course, my thin blood means I wear 5 layers of wetsuits!

Full disclosure: I’m not diving on this trip, though I have done cooler water dives, with large amounts of insulation. A polar bear I am not.