2012

Being located at 177°22’W longitude and thus about 140 miles from the International Date Line I with the other inhabitants of Midway were some of the last people on Earth to ring in the New year. You just can’t get much further west and still be standing on dry land. Even Samoa, this year, jumped into the future by skipping Friday and joining their trading partners on the other side of the IDL. So there you go, no matter which way you go when you leave Midway you lose time, and that’s what this place is, lost in time.

You may have noticed by my photos that the birds really do rule here, much the way they have done for eons, before the arrival of westernized man, before the arrival of early polynesians; all of us of course being aficionados of the multitudinous fowl, for the table, for their feathers, for the albumin in their eggs. If we ourselves found the creatures unpalatable or unusable our traveling mammalian friends certainly didn’t waste the opportunity, rats and pigs made short work of whatever avian appetizer they could get hold of.

These islands are so remote that there are no native mammals, unless you count monk seals and dolphins. But the birds don’t seem to hold a grude, maybe it’s the Auld Lang Syne. In any case the placid and naive creatures will let you get as close as you please, of course there is often a lot of clacking (their complaining) and I treat the more then occasional bird nip, but the stay put and are unabashed and unafraid. It’s no wonder so many of their feathered brethren have gone the way of the dodo.

Well speaking of extinct the other photos, and there will be more, are representative of the Navy’s former presence here on Midway. I’m unsure, what amazes me more, the amount of infrastructure which was in place or the degree to which it has been reclaimed by time and the tropics, the sheer scale and ephemeral nature of our leavings, to which we attach such permanence is astounding.

Obviously we alter our environs and our ability to do so is unrivaled in the animal kingdom, but we are not the ultimate power in the universe that in our vanity we imagine ourselves to be, nature will always be waiting patiently to clean up our messes, or sweep them under the rug, which ever you prefer. If Midway is any example, given a little bit of time and the absence of man we and our ruins will be erased. If anything I’m going to side with the late great Gorge Carlin on this one, maybe we are really the penultimate step in evolution, maybe we’re simply here to give the Earth plastic.

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