Excerpts from the strange and wonderful story of the greatest penguin that has ever lived.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How it begins...


This is the strange story of Haole, the most important and amazing penguin that has ever lived.
Think of the last time you were in the snow. Was it cold? Really cold? Did you feel like your nose was going to freeze? That is nothing compared to Antarctica. The Antarctic is the coldest place on earth. The coldest day in your home town is like a warm summer day in the Antarctic, down at the bottom of the world. So it seems insane, to say the least, that penguins, as a group, choose to spend their time pretty much evenly split between standing on the ice sheet in the freezing wind, and, of all things, swimming! Talk about cold! Talk about crazy! Birds like this must be prone to do wild and crazy things.
But, you see, that’s just it: they are not crazy at all. In fact, they are a little boring (not Haole, of course, but we’ll get to that in a bit). Penguins, like adult people, tend to concentrate on just one thing with a kind of dull single-mindedness. What is that one thing? Fish.

“Fish,” said Haole under his breath as he waddled his way back from the water just a few days before our story takes place. He was shaking his head and trying not to listen to the mindless penguin banter coming from the other penguins walking with him.
“What was that, Haole?” said the nearest older penguin, “did you say something about fish?”
Haole winced. “No,” he said quickly, “I didn’t say anything.”
The older penguin acted as if he hadn’t heard him. “I was just telling Kami here about the silverfish today.”
“Hi, Haole.” Kami leaned his head around the older penguin and gave Haole a cheerful grin. “How’s fishing?”
“I was telling Kami,” continued the older penguin, “that there must have been a million silverfish out there today.”
“Two million,” corrected Kami with that same silly grin on his face.
“And mackerel,” added the older penguin.
“Mackerel are so delicious,” Kami was really trying to engage Haole in a conversation.
Haole winced again and slowed down to try and get the older penguin between them as he had been before.
The older penguin saw Haole’s expression as he did this. “Is there something wrong, Haole?” he asked.
Haole looked frustrated. “It’s just that all you ever talk about is fish,” Haole blurted out.
The older penguin cleared his throat as if he was going to argue with young Haole, but then he caught himself (after all, it was true). “And what’s wrong with that?” he asked.
“It’s just that it’s boring,” Haole offered.
“Boring?” They seemed shocked.
“It’s just that it’s the same thing every time. You chase the fish. You catch the fish. You eat the fish,” complained Haole.
Both of the other penguins stopped in their tracks. You see, just as people tend to get caught up and myopic about work and money, penguins do the same thing about fishing and fish. Boring, you say? Well, I agree with you. Haole agrees with you.
As soon as Haole had voiced his opinion both of the other penguins turned towards him and gave him an incredulous look of pity that was normally reserved for small penguins that had recently lost their mothers to killer whales.
“Haole, fish make the world go ‘round,” the older one stated in an emphatic, matter of fact voice.

Haole hated that, even if it was true. No, it couldn’t be true. Fishing was boring. But, fish were also all there was to eat when you lived on an ice sheet. To be more exact, the penguins lived on a floating piece of ice almost one hundred miles wide, floating just off, but connected to, the north-western edge of Victoria Land in Greater Antarctica, in the freezing waters of the Antarctic’s Ross Sea.
The ice sheet that Haole lived on was a flat expanse that was continually pummeled by the sea at one end where there was a sloped hill of ice leading down to a small inlet. Penguins would slide down the ice into the waves to fish and climb out when they were done. The yearlings (those are the younger penguins under a year old) would sometimes spend hours just sliding down the ice over and over again, playing. Haole could remember endless hours playing with the other yearlings when he was small.
The flat ice continued the other direction until far, far off in the distance there could be seen the low hills of the Borchgrevink Coast of the Antarctic mainland with Mount Minto in the hazy distance beyond. Along the edge of the ice heading west, away from the inlet, there was a shallow rock reef that stretched for a mile or so. Down at the far end of the reef the land came up out of the water in some crumbly rocky outcroppings that the penguins liked to call cliffs. This was where the only other residents of the area lived – a group of fur seals that kept mostly on their side of the ice and only stayed for half the year before migrating to an offshore island. So the penguins had this vast and freezing place mostly to themselves.
This was the penguin’s entire universe. No penguin ever ventured outside of this landscape and the few miles of ocean that surround it. On several occasions Haole had asked his mother about this very thing. One time it was while they had stood together, watching as a storm approached over the cliffs to the west.
“What’s past those cliffs?” Haole asked innocently.
“Just more ice,” his mother had responded automatically. She used to seem so big to Haole, towering above him, but since he had his growth spurt this year, she didn’t seem so huge. She was just a little taller than him now.
The answer didn’t satisfy him. “Well, what’s beyond that?” he persisted innocently.
“Even more ice,” she said firmly, and then added, “and more cliffs.”
There was a long pause as Haole doubted for a second that his mom knew everything. “Mom?”
“What is it, Haole?” She looked at him sweetly.
“Well, what’s beyond that?” He was going to repeat the question until he got an answer other than ‘ice.’
His mother’s feathers ruffled. “Why don’t you spend your time thinking about more important things?” she gently scolded him.
“Like what?” he asked, although he already knew the answer.
“Like fishing,” she said predictably. “Haole, one of these days very soon you are going to have to stop all of your dreaming and start keeping your mind on practical matters. You are growing up.”
See what I mean, Dear reader?

Now, if eating raw fish all day, every day, doesn’t sound boring, then I don’t know what does. But, if that’s all there is to eat (and you’ve got to eat), well, the penguins figure the only way for it is to throw themselves into the task with all they’ve got and do their best to try to survive. And they do a remarkable job. In the winter it gets down under 50 degrees below zero. You or I would surely die of hypothermia (that’s freezing to death, as I’m sure you know) in under a few minutes, so it’s amazing that they survive at all. “How do they do it?” you ask. Well, they eat a lot of fish first of all – over three pounds a day per penguin. Can you even imagine eating that much raw fish? It makes me lose my appetite just thinking about it. The other thing they do is cuddle. They all stand around on the ice and cuddle each other to keep each other warm. “Cute!” some of you say. “Gross!” say others. Well, no matter what you think of it, they survive the winter this way in a place that even scientists can’t go without thousands of pounds of equipment. This big group of penguins all standing around cuddling is called a ‘huddle.’ To Haole, the huddle was where he was from – like some of you are from one town or another. Now, as they all stand there for hours and hours, in the freezing, icy wind, what do they do? They gossip, of course. They talk about other penguins. They make fun of penguins who are not behaving just exactly like the rest of the penguins. They poke fun at anyone who dares to do anything different. Lately, they had been talking a lot about Haole.
Haole is a good-looking penguin, don’t get me wrong. And he’s smart. And he’s one of the best swimmers in the whole ice sheet. The only thing is, he acts different. Haole doesn’t like to fish. And to penguins that’s like not having a job. What do we call people who don’t like to work? Bums, usually. Good-for-nothings sometimes; and, occasionally, useless. We’re pretty mean, huh? Haole was anything but useless – and certainly not a good-for-nothing bum. Haole was, in fact, an excellent fisher, maybe the best on the whole ice sheet. He was so good, in fact, that he could catch enough fish to eat in a very short amount of time. This left him with a large amount of his day with nothing to do. Most penguins, when they were done fishing, would go back up on the ice sheet and cuddle with the other penguins and gossip. Haole thought this was boring. I agree – but what do I know, I’m not a penguin. I think that you’d agree. Haole had found something else, something else that he liked to do in his free time. The other penguins thought this was absurd. What else was there except fish, fishing, and staying warm - except staying away from the killer whales and leopard seals?
Well, Haole had happened on this other thing quite by accident as he was coming back to the ice sheet from fishing one day. I’ll tell you all about it.

There had been a storm raging for several days at the time, and all the other penguins in the huddle, back on the ice, had been particularly miserable and gossipy. It made them happier, when they didn’t feel good, to make fun of other penguins – sounds silly, doesn’t it? Well, Haole was tired of it. The sky was a dark mass of swirling clouds and rain, and the ocean was a frothy mess of wind-whipped waves and chunks of ice as he made his way through the water. The wind had picked up to a harsh gale while he had been out and he could see in the distance that back on the ice the penguins looked small and miserable. The beautiful thing about the ocean, thought Haole, is how calm and peaceful it stays just beneath the surface. Even though the wind was blowing a mean storm above the water, underneath it was a perfect, seemingly endless, clear translucent blue. Why would he want to go back, he thought. Haole soared gracefully through the water. He dipped and turned. He swooped as whitecaps crashed almost silently above him and burst into clouds of white foam on the surface. The light coming through the water above him diffracted into long columns of light blue, glowing down into the depths. Haole’s mind wandered as he swam. His mother had been on at him again about responsibility and about how he continually let her down by not wanting to join in the conversation about how terrible the albatross were. Albatross were big white and gray birds that flew over the ice sheet this time of year. A big group of them had flown over just before the storm kicked up. “What’s so terrible about them?” he had said back to her.
“You always say the silliest things, Haole. You know what they do is so insulting,” she had retorted back at him.
“No, really, what is so insulting?” he was only half listening, as he watched the yearlings playing near the edge of the sheet, sliding off a chunk of ice into the water with a splash.
“Don’t play dumb with me, young man.” She was taking this way too seriously, her feathers beginning to ruffle on the back of her neck. “They fly right over us.” She waited for him to agree. “They’re making fun of us!”
“Mom!” Penguins were almost insufferably stupid sometimes, thought Haole. They were so insecure about not being able to fly that any bird that happened to be migrating overhead was suddenly making some statement. “Mom, they’re just flying.” Haole leveled a stare at her, “the same way we swim.”
She huffed and turned her back on him to keep complaining with the other mothers gathered and huddled together on the ice.

In the ocean now, the endless blue glided past beneath him. That conversation had been yesterday, but his mind still wrestled with it a little as he soared around the undulating subsurface of an iceberg. And soar he did. Have you ever seen penguins swim underwater? They swim with the effortless ease of a flying bird. Well, they are birds. They’re flightless birds, to be exact. They soar and dive, flap their wings, and bank in tight little arcs at tremendous speeds underwater. The first time I ever saw a penguin underwater, do you know what I thought? I thought that penguins could teach the fish how to swim better. They could.
Haole was thinking about this very thing as he swam. The other day he and his best friend Keiki had been talking. “Why should we be bitter toward the albatross?” he said to her. “They fly in the air and we swim in the water.”
She looked at him like he had fish scales stuck in his beak. “The albatross eat our eggs!” she said in disgust.
“Good point,” he mused. “Have you ever actually seen them do it?”
“Actually I have seen them do it,” she shot back. “Then they fly around in circles way up in the air making fun of us.”
Haole shook his head. “Penguins are so isolated that we think that everyone is making fun of us. We eat the fish. They must think that we’re constantly making fun of them.”
“That’s totally different,” Keiki argued. “It’s lucky that the others can’t hear you say ridiculous things like that.”
“I bet that the albatross are jealous of how easily we swim and catch fish,” he had said.
“Haole!” She had playfully reprimanded him.

He banked hard and dove deeper to avoid a piece of the iceberg that jutted out at an angle downward. The huge storm waves on the surface were causing the ice to tip slightly with each swell as they crashed against its side. The light slanting through the water beneath him fell away to an unseen depth. Haole was so caught up in just the pure feeling of soaring down into the dim depths, banking left and right as he went down, thinking about the silly conversation with Keiki and the gossip he was happily missing back on the ice, that he almost didn’t see it in time.
Something raced out of the shadows at a tremendous speed, heading right for him! For a second he was unsure what it was; then all the alarm bells went off inside his head! A million years of evolution tripped a wire in his brain and, as his eyes almost bulged out of his sockets, one name filled his mind with screaming dread -Killer Whale!
Its mouth was already wide open, ready to eat him in one terrible bite. Haole banked a hard left as the huge jaws snapped shut just a few inches behind his back flippers. He banked hard again and headed for the iceberg above him. He flapped and kicked with everything he had, pushing for the safety of the iceberg’s crevices. The killer whale was so close behind that Haole could smell it’s stinky breath, putrid with the stench of other penguins he’d killed and eaten in the last few days. Haole gave one last desperate push, and banked right just at the ice. The killer whale, just on Haole’s fins, couldn’t stop or turn so quickly, and bashed into the ice with a tremendous thud as shattered ice crashed into the water all around him.
Haole didn’t look back, but scratched for the surface with all his might, dodging pieces of falling iceberg, and cursing himself for daydreaming out in the open ocean. The ice shelf was only a few hundred yards away. If he could only reach it he’d be safe.
A sudden huge SNAP shattered any illusions that he had lost the k-whale. The frighteningly huge teeth gnashed together just behind Haole’s fins, propelling him forward with a rush of water and sheer terror. Haole banked sharply upward toward the surface. He knew that he couldn’t out-run the whale in a straight line, but he could turn harder than him, and if he zig-zagged back and forth, the whale would lose a lot of speed trying to change directions with its huge body. The whale was still right on his fins though. Desperately he banked left, but the whale stayed with him. He veered right, but gained only a couple inches. He banked upward again. Above him, only a few feet above his head now, was the exploding foam of the storm raging on the open water.
Haole glanced back only to see the k-whale’s gaping mouth wide open, right on him, about to snap down again. There was only one place he could go - only one last card he could play. He banked toward the rolling foam above him and launched himself into the air:
It was like thunder! The relative silence of the water gave way to the crashing of towering waves. The storm on the water’s surface was blowing a blinding fury of frothy foam and chunks of ice. Haole launched out of the water’s surface at full speed and flew, twisting with the momentum, in a long arc. Behind him, the k-whale broke the surface too and his massive body lurched upward after Haole, jaws snapping. He crashed down awkwardly in a huge splash just behind Haole, who flew further than the whale, twisting as the wind pushed his small body. As he splashed down, his face turned skyward from the effort and he saw it - coming straight at them! A huge storm wave was racing toward them like a beast from beneath the water! It dwarfed the whale, and it was equally as terrifying, but it was his only chance. Haole made a quick decision, and on entering the water again, he flipped his wings hard and made for the wave.
The k-whale was still right on his heels as they entered the trough in front of the sloping surface of the wave. Haole could feel the tremendous power of the wave already beginning to pull him upward, as it began to get steeper. He stroked hard for the center of the body of the wave. This k-whale must be really hungry, he thought. A whale would have to be crazy to follow me into this. He pushed forward and up into the slope.
The whole world lurched suddenly! Without warning the force of the water moving upward became too strong to swim against. He was caught in it now. It dawned on him that he was crazy for swimming into this. At least he had a chance of getting away from the whale, but there was no escaping this monster of a wave.
Haole risked a glance back at the k-whale, still right on his heels as the wave began to suck. For a brief second, his eyes met those of the k-whale. Steel black eyes that no penguin ever saw, but that were followed by certain death. The cold eyes of a killer. And he saw fear!
The face of the wave went concave and suddenly they were both weightless, being carried helplessly upwards as the thick lip of the wave began to throw itself outward. The violent surface of the water (now to their side, not above them, as they had been pulled up into the body of the wave) suddenly was pulled and brushed smooth, and from the inside it took on a magical shimmering quality. It was like a wall of glass next to them. Like a mirror, but on the other side was air. There was a pause. The energy of the wave had reached the top and paused for a second before it began to crash down. Somewhere behind and below them was a thundering explosive crash as the lip began to break against the ocean. Then they were being pulled out – forward into the lip – into that explosion.
Haole freaked. He was way beyond scared. The killer whale, behind him, began to be flung outward, helplessly. He watched as it was pulled over and down towards the exploding white water. Then it was gone. He never saw it again. He was next!
For some reason, and Haole still does not know why (I think it was destiny. Sometimes the hand of destiny reaches out and makes us do great things – even sometimes against our will.) Haole veered left! He veered left toward that translucent shimmering wall. The force of the wave tugged at him, but he was just strong enough. The wave was trying to take him over with the lip and down into that explosion, but Haole kicked one more time, stretched his wings out, and punched through the surface!
What happened next happened fast. He broke through into the air and flew for just a few feet, reconnected with the surface, and began to slide. He didn’t punch back through – couldn’t – he was going way too fast! He slid down the face of the wave, gaining speed, struggling to slow himself down. The arcing explosion of the lip was deafening below him as he slid right towards it. Panicking, he shoved his wing into the wall of water and dug his heels in as hard as he could. This slowed him a bit, and he began to slide sideways with the motion of the wave. He faltered in his balance for a second, struggled to stay upright as he dug his wing in a little deeper, then leaned forward. He was shocked to realize that he was in control. He was shooting along the face of the crushing beast of a wave. He turned a little, digging the sides of his feet into the surface and leaning into the turn. He was racing through the air! The lip was exploding behind him as he bolted across the curving face. He held on for just another second – he didn’t know how long it was because time seemed to stand still – and the wave collapsed behind him, imploding into a mass of foam. He glided on the surface for fifty feet or so with the extra momentum and then sank back into the water as his speed dissipated.
Haole looked around to see if anyone had seen, but there was just empty water and the cliffs of the Elsworth ice sheet rising in front of him. He looked behind him, remembering with a sudden flash of panic the k-whale, but it was gone. The monster was nowhere to be seen. Looking backwards, he suddenly realized where he was. He was on the other side of the reef. Just then another huge wave reared up on the reef and broke, peeling with violent precision, as Haole watched. He had just ridden that? His mother had always told him to stay away from the reef during storms. Now he knew why. The only problem was that now he also knew that he was hooked. He had a feeling inside him that he had never felt before – a feeling that somehow this experience was going to change his life. He looked around again to make sure the k-whale was gone, and then hurried back to the ice sheet.



When they got back to the point, the porpoise were on it already, shredding. The waves were awesome. Donna and Haole both caught a few waves, but neither of them spoke about their meeting with the Narwhale. It was too soon to talk about it as neither of them had fully digested the experience. However, Haole couldn’t keep from asking the porpoise what they knew about the gathering.
“It’s a surfing contest,” said Trace when Haole repeated to him part of what the Narwhale had said. “All the sea animals that surf go. They hold it each year at a place called Teahupo’o in Tahiti.”
“But it’s more than just a surf contest,” added Brine, “it’s a great meeting for all the animals of the sea.”
“Have you ever been?” Haole was fascinated by the concept.
Trace looked around as if someone were listening, then continued, “We used to go every year, but about two years back we were planning to go when the tuna schools moved east at a time of year when they usually move north and we were stuck.”
“Without the schools we wouldn’t have had a steady source of food,” Brine said sadly. “It’s a long trip. Without a school of tuna to follow we weren’t sure if we would have enough food to eat.”
Haole was too exited to let a logistical problem stand in his way. “Are you going this year?” he asked.
“It depends on the tuna schools. Last year they did the same thing. They went east,” said Trace. “We’d love to go, but we don’t know what the tuna are going to do until they do it.”
“Why don’t you just ask them?” Haole asked innocently.
Floater shook his head, laughing. “Have you ever spoken to a tuna?”
“They don’t make very good conversation,” added Trace.
Brine was laughing now too. “Can you picture it? ‘Excuse me my dear tuna. Do you mind telling me when and where you are going to migrate so as I might follow you and eat you for dinner every night?’ How do you think that would go over, Haole?”
Haole hadn’t thought about it that way. “I guess that would be a little awkward,” he admitted. “How did you know that they were going north in all those other years?”
Floater got serious now. “The albatross used to tell us.”
“Really?” it was just as the Narwhale had described, thought Haole. “What happened?”
“We don’t know really,” said Brine. “They claim that they don’t know what the tuna are going to do anymore.”
Just then a huge set wave peaked on the outside and Treak and Donna dropped in side by side, riding it in long graceful arcs. The other three porpoise let out exited burbles of laughter and raced out to catch the next wave, leaving Haole behind in the water, deep in thought. After a second he shook his head and raced out to join the others, but all afternoon he turned the problem over in his mind. There was only one way to sort it out, he figured - go talk to the albatross.

This made Haole nervous. He had never spoken to an albatross before and the impression he had always had, indeed the impression he had been brought up with, was of the albatross as insufferably rude creatures, aloof and unapproachable. Haole now realized that this was generally a view of the world that the penguins had developed due to their isolation. Of course, it had something to do with the fact that the albatross were known to try and eat the penguins eggs when they were unguarded. Still, it was really a function of the penguins projecting their own feelings of social inadequacy out onto the creatures around them. So then, Haole thought, it obviously wasn’t true of the albatross. They were just trying to survive like everyone else, but still it made Haole so nervous that he had a knot in his stomach.
The beach where Donna and Haole slept each night was, as I’ve told you, a cormorant nesting area, but high up in the cliff face there was a resident population of albatross. They never came down to land on the beach, but flew in and out of high nests on the way to their fishing grounds each morning and night. Haole had watched them take off for and land from their long flights since the first day he came to the island, but talking to them was different.
Skitter set up the meeting. Haole had asked that night and Skitter had said that she knew quite a few albatross and that she would ask a few of them to come down to the beach the next morning.
Donna had wanted to come too, so as the sun rose behind the right flank of the island, she and Haole waited on the sand. They had taken a morning swim, but had come right back to the beach not wanting to be late. Soon there was a flurry of activity up in the cliff and a few moments later there were four huge albatross circling down towards them. Skitter was with them too.
The first albatross alighted on the sand just a few feet away from Haole, his huge wings allowing him to practically float down and hover just above the sand for a moment before he stood up on his large webbed feet and folded his wings away. Behind him, the others began doing the same in a graceful dance of landing. Haole was overcome for a few moments by a feeling of wonder. He had always wanted to be in the presence of the albatross and he watched them all land, feeling a great respect for them. It took a minute, therefore, for Haole to notice something that had never crossed his mind. Once their huge wings were folded away, these birds were a little smaller than him. He had always assumed they were bigger and it made him feel strange to look down on them.
Skitter waddled to the front, blinked her big blue eyes at Haole, and started introductions. “Haole, this is Sirius, Rygel, Polaris and Orion,” she started. “This is Haole, the penguin.”
“We’ve been watching you for weeks now,” said Sirius. “I guess that if you were going to leave right away you would have done it already.”
Haole wasn’t sure how to take this. “I really like it here,” he said weakly. “This is Donna, my friend. She’s the one who told me about the island.”
Donna pushed herself forward. She was getting impatient. She’d always had a real sense that birds liked to waste time chattering, so she got right to the point. “We’re worried about the porpoise,” she said.
This got a general titter from the albatross. They were sure she was crazy or kidding. “I think the porpoise are just fine,” said Rygel. “I haven’t seen them swim more than a mile to find food in two years. We need to fly nearly a hundred miles each day to get enough food for our young.”
Haole was puzzled. He knew that the albatross didn’t eat tuna. They couldn’t. Tuna were far too big to be lifted up into the air even by their huge wings. “That’s not what this is about,” he said. “Do you ever talk to the porpoise about the tuna’s migration?”
“The porpoise are far too busy playing and are never serious. It would be pointless for us to talk to them,” said Rygel.
“So, how long has it been since you’ve spoken?” asked Donna.
Sirius bobbed his head, thinking. “For me it’s been a while. Some of us talk to the porpoise quite frequently. My uncle, Odysseus, used to talk to the tuna schools all the time. He would always say that it was an old tradition, but it seemed that he was not really in touch with reality.”
“Does he still do it?” asked Haole.
The albatross looked suddenly sad. “He passed away during the huge storm in the winter before last.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” offered Donna.
Rygel smiled, “The old guy always said that he would fly in any storm. I, for one, am impressed that he never backed down.”
“Hell of a bird,” said the other albatross, Polaris. “So what is the big deal with talking to the porpoise?”
Haole went straight to the point, “Well, it seems that the porpoise are a little stuck without your uncle.”
“How’s that?” Sirius was confused.
“You see,” Donna stepped in, “the porpoise apparently have been relying on your uncle’s seemingly innocent talks with the tuna in order to learn where they might expect the tuna to migrate next.”
“In fact,” Haole added, “I think that your uncle was actually giving the tuna advice on where they should migrate.”
Rygel shook his head, “Why don’t the porpoise just talk to them?”
Haole laughed, “See, that’s what I thought until the porpoise pointed out to me that it would be a little awkward to ask the tuna themselves, since their intention was to follow the tuna and eat them.”
“Oh, I see,” said all the albatross at once.
Sirius continued, “Well, push me out of the nest. I can’t believe that the old crazy bird wasn’t so crazy after all. He was always on about tradition and none of us ever wanted to listen to him.”
“He was up to something,” Rygel winked. “I always knew he was.”
“So, what should we do?” asked Polaris. “In honor of old Uncle Odysseus we should do something.”
Haole already had something in mind. “Well, the porpoise want to go to the Gathering of Ocean Creatures in a few weeks, and they usually follow the tuna, only for the last two years the tuna have headed east instead of north.”
“We could work that out pretty easy, couldn’t we fellas?” Sirius nodded at the others.
“Sure we could,” nodded Rygel. “Listen, Haole. While you’re here we have a question for you. How do you surf across the face of the wave on your feet like that?”
Haole was a little surprised, but he thought about it for a second. “Have you guys tried it?” he asked innocently.
The albatross looked sheepish for a second, then Sirius admitted, “Yeah, we’ve been riding above the waves for so long that we thought we’d give riding on the waves a try. You do make it look easy, but we found it to be just a bit trickier than we expected.”
Looking them up and down, Haole thought of something. “I hate to say it,” he said, “but I think your wings would get in the way.” It was really the first time that he realized how special his small wings were. They were perfect for surfing.

Haole spent the next few days playing with the porpoise and thinking about the journey to The Gathering. The albatross had spoken with the tuna and told him not to worry. He didn’t know what they had said to each other, but Sirius had assured him that the tuna would be headed north this year right on schedule. Now all there was to do was to bring up the idea of his going along to the porpoise. He expected it to go over easily, but he really wasn’t prepared for their reaction.
“Are you crazy?” Trace recoiled back in the water as if he had been physically struck by the absurdity of the idea. “Haole, you can’t,” he said matter-of-factly. “Tahiti is in the tropics!”
“I don’t get it,” said Donna, “what is the tropics?” She honestly had no idea what Trace was talking about.
“Honey,” Brine was smiling sweetly at both of them as if there was something they did not understand about life. “The tropics are a part of the world where it is very hot all of the time.”
“That sounds great,” said Haole. He couldn’t even imagine any part of the world being warmer than Antarctica was in the summer, and to travel to a part of the world that always enjoyed the pleasant temperatures of the long summer days of home sounded wonderful.
“No, Haole, you don’t understand,” said Trace. “It’s a lot hotter. Living here in the Antarctic all of the time you would be shocked at how hot it can get there.”
“But, I…,” Haole tried to argue. He honestly didn’t understand the problem.
Trace stopped him. “You are a penguin!”
“We aren’t even sure if you can survive in temperatures like that.” Brine was genuinely concerned for Haole’s safety. “The heat is brutal. The sun is so intense that it can burn your skin.”
“He has feathers!” shouted Donna, “This is ridiculous.” She was frustrated by the way the conversation was going.
Both of the porpoise stopped and looked back and forth between Haole and Donna for a few moments. They felt sorry for them but they agreed that this was ridiculous. It was out of the question for Haole to go. Besides the temperature there was the long migration distance. They knew that the longest distance that Haole had ever swum was from the ice sheet out to the island. The trip to Tahiti would be one hundred times farther than that. There was another thing. Brine didn’t want to say it, but she needed to convince Haole not to risk his life. “There has never been a penguin that has traveled out of the Antarctic. It’s that simple. You aren’t capable of making the trip.” She felt bad as soon as it was out of her mouth, but as far as she knew it was the truth and she just wanted to protect him.
“It’s not true,” blurted out Donna.
The porpoise looked at her in surprise. If they had had eyebrows they would all have been raised about now. “How is that?” asked Trace slowly.
Haole took a deep breath. “We met the Narwhale, and he told us of a time long ago when penguins used to travel across the seas like the porpoise do now.”
The porpoise weren’t listening. They were shocked. “You met the Narwhale?”
“We met him a few days ago out in the deeper water,” said Haole.
“Listen,” said Trace, “the Narwhale is old and crazy.”
Donna was tired of the argument. This is not at all what she expected from the porpoise. “Let’s just wait until the tuna migrate. If the tuna head north in a week than we all know that he was telling the truth.”
“I don’t know what she is talking about,” Trace was truly puzzled. “Do you know what she’s talking about?” he asked as he looked to Brine and shrugged.

It’s true that the talk with the porpoise didn’t go the way that Haole wanted it to, but Haole tried to get himself back into a good mood anyway. He told himself that it didn’t matter. He told himself the he didn’t want to go to the stupid Gathering anyway, but he knew that he was just lying to himself. He desperately wanted to go. He thought of nothing else all day. He racked his mind, but the more he thought, the more it seemed to be impossible for him to make the trip alone and by the end of the day he was depressed - very depressed. He spent the afternoon moping around the cove off the cormorants’ beach. He avoided everyone. Donna came back from playing Catch with the porpoise and tried to get him to race her around the island, but he was in no mood to play. She got upset with him and swam off to play at the point in the small swell that was running, telling him that he was obsessed. When the porpoise came into the cove just before sunset he pretended to already be sleeping. He heard Brine tell the others not to bother him. He had been really upset about the whole ridiculous idea of going to The Gathering, was how she put it, and he deserved a break. The other porpoise must have listened to her because they swam away after that and Haole moped around the beach till dark.
Donna came back just after dark and again Haole pretended to be asleep. He just sat there and pondered his own hopeless position, but of course it didn’t get him anywhere, and sometime later he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep and the first half of the night passed in a timeless short moment…

Something woke Haole in the wee hours of the morning. Something had changed. He sniffed the dark night air and it was full of heavy sea salt. There was a bright moon and the night felt alive. The depression of the day was gone in an instant. There was energy in the air.
In a second he knew what it was. The rumbling booming noise of waves breaking in the moonlight out on the reef let Haole know that the swell had come up since the sun set. Sharp cracking of big waves unloading their energy on the point reverberated across the beach.
He looked over at Donna. She was still sleeping, nestled up next to a big rock, her head tucked between her flippers. She didn’t stir at all as Haole got up and waddled to the waters edge and jumped in.
The water was full of energy and moving down the coast in a fast current. Haole headed for the point, watching the moonlight low on the horizon glimmering off the water. Clouds covered the sky except for a small space around the moon and the night seemed timeless. The crashing of the waves became louder and louder as he neared the point. Haole was being carried up and over swell after swell as they rolled by underneath him. As he got closer to the point the waves got bigger and bigger until it was as if there were small mountains passing beneath him and he became swallowed by deep valleys between them.
Once he was out at the break he marveled at the way the low moon gave plenty of light to see the waves by and he immediately swam into a big one, riding it all the way down the line. It reminded him of the waves he used to catch back off the ice sheet - big, mean and fast. He quickly swam outside and caught another one, carving long drawn out turns all the way down the line. These waves were fast and thick, and the swell was getting bigger with each set. Once Haole had been out in the moonlight surfing for an hour or more, the trouble he felt about the journey to the Gathering was a million miles away, and after several more waves Haole looked up into the sky and lay back in the water. There was a lull, and the sea went momentarily calm.
The Moon sat on the horizon for what seemed like a long time as Haole stared at it and waited for another set to come building into the point. Finally, the moon set in a faint glow and the clouds followed it over the horizon to complete their blanket of the sky. Haole watched the whole thing. He was mesmerized, watching the last of the glow fade, thinking about the good fortune he had had, coming to the island and finding good friends and a safe place to live. Even if the journey to the Gathering was not going to happen, things were going to work out in the long run. For just a minute Haole thought about his mother back on the ice. It made him sad because the truth was, although Haole would never have admitted it, he really missed his mother and the community of penguins in the huddle. Secretly he wished that he could go back, but could he go back? Was he just an outcast now? He even missed the way his mother used to smooth the feathers on his head after he swam. He was lost in thought for a long moment.
Now, my esteemed reader, pay close attention because something really astounding is about to happen to Haole. He is about to take the next step in his journey to becoming a legend.
A movement in the water stirred Haole’s attention and he looked around. He became alarmed when he realized that he could not see a thing - nothing! After the moon set, the sea had become pitch black! The motion of the water, Haole knew, was the water moving out as the next set of powerful waves approached. He gulped, looked around in a panic, but there was nothing. Clouds covered the sky and he was in total darkness. Fear began to creep up his back. This was dangerous. He could feel the first wave approaching.
Haole wanted to swim into the wave. He was in the perfect position but the sea was too black. The huge wave rushed at him with a speed exaggerated by the darkness. Haole struggled to see, straining his eyes to squeeze the last bit of moonlight out of the dark. There was none. It was just black. With a powerful pull he was lifted up in the body of the wave as the first one jacked up on the reef.
Hope seemed to rush out of his body. Haole closed his eyes in a moment of despair, but just then something happened. He realized that there was no difference between opening and closing his eyes. For just a moment it came to him, a vision of himself lying on his back, eyes closed on a sunny afternoon, safely floating in the water. He relaxed.
He heard a voice in his mind. ‘Trust yourself,’ it said. ‘Don’t be afraid, it’s only water… let go.’ Pushing forward, he swam into the wave.
He closed his eyes. The spray blowing up off the top of the wave was still raining against him. The weightlessness at the edge was the same as when it was light and, as he pushed himself out through the lip, he felt for his feet to connect with the face. He raced downward with the speed of gravity. His webbed feet connected in the darkness with the water and sliced a clean turn off the bottom as he leaned into the wave and felt for the power in the face to let him know when to come off the gas and re-adjust to set his line. The lip exploded behind him in a shuddering roar, splitting the dark like a whip cracking. Haole opened his eyes involuntarily at the boom but he could see nothing, just searing blackness. He closed them again. The face of the wave went concave and Haole leaned forward on his toe edge, picking up speed as the barrel came over and enveloped him in a huge sucking cylinder of air. He raced forward, meeting the darkness, feeling his way through the wave as he adjusted his weight to stay in the juicy power center. The water flew past under his toes as he crouched down with the speed and braced for the final rush. Behind him the tube began to collapse and the foam of the breaking wave spat out around his body as he leaned forward once again and carved a clean line in the dark toward the safety of the shoulder. He had ridden a wave from start to finish with his eyes closed!
He was so at one with the rhythm and motion of the waves that he didn’t need to see. He swam in the blackness until he could feel by the way the sea moved that he was out near the top of the point again. He felt calm, centered and acutely aware of each nuance in the motion of the water. It was only then that he surfaced, finally opening his eyes, and saw that in the distance the first light of dawn had just begun. There was an eerie salt-spray mist hanging over the water and it was like a fog in the slight gray light. Haole could see another set wave coming, looming toward him.
Now able to see, Haole raced forward. Whereas a moment ago he was feeling his way into these huge waves, now, with just this dim amount of sight he shot forward with total confidence. He dove down, soaring beneath the wave as it built. As the wave neared the point, Haole swam up inside it and as it began to break he was once again on the face, streaking under the folding lip. This time it was different though. When he couldn’t see, Haole had been conservative, being careful just to make it to the end of the wave. Now with the aid of his sight, he threw caution to the wind, racing across the face and tearing a huge carve just under the curl. He was in total control! Racing across the wave he threw turn after turn, confidently pulling in to another tube, then accelerating towards the top of the wave and doing an incredible air maneuver where he leaped above the wave for a second and then came down again, landing smoothly to carve another great arc. It was a truly amazing wave. Haole was totally in the moment. He wasn’t thinking - just being. And although he didn’t know it, and probably wouldn’t have believed it if he knew, it just might have been the best anyone has ever surfed. Haole had caught and ridden a perfect wave. He had crossed that invisible threshold and become a master surfer.
At the end of the ride he swam out to the top of the point, ready to catch another. He was buzzing all over. Never had he felt so in control, so in sync with the waves. He was going to swim into another one right away, but he suddenly had a strange feeling. All around him the water seemed to vibrate in the dim light. The brightening dawn seemed to turn the mist yellow in an instant and Haole looked around the water as the vibrating got stronger and stronger. Something inside him told him to swim out, over the oncoming set of waves and out toward the deep water. He followed the feeling and within moments he was swimming through the yellow mist outside the point as the big swells moved under him like watery hills.
At the top of one swell the vibration became exceptionally strong and Haole imagined that he could hear his name being called out to him through the water. It was faint, but he imagined that his name was echoing through the water like wind through the trees. No, he wasn’t imagining it at all! He was really hearing it. His name came clearly now, vibrating through the water. Haole had heard this sound before. He followed it further out and dove beneath the surface, following it down into the dim blueness. It came again. “Haole,” echoed through the water and Haole realized what it was; it was the Narwhale! The Narwhale was calling his name! He sped through the water toward the sound and after swimming hard for a few moments he began to make out its huge outline in the distance. Drawing nearer and nearer he drew up short when he caught sight of the horn, white and twisted, jutting out into the water. The Narwhale was watching him with its great eyes, steady and unblinking.
“Come closer,” the Narwhale said.
Even though Haole had been in the presence of the Narwhale a few days earlier, he instinctively winced backwards at first; then, regaining his confidence, he approached the whale.
The Narwhale lowered his great horn so as to make room for Haole to come nearer. “I’ve been calling you because I need to talk to you,” he said.
Haole didn’t understand. “You need to talk to me?” he asked lamely.
“I need to tell you a few things. I spoke with the whales to the north, and I told them that a penguin had moved off of the ice,” the Narwhale said gently.
“We met with the albatross,” Haole blurted out.
“I know. They tell me a great many things, and I told them that I would not scare the tuna again this year if the tuna would agree to swim north.” He laugh was like a stream flowing over some rocks.
“It was you?” Haole was beginning to understand the way in which everything affects everything else.
“Yes,” said the whale. “They won’t talk to me. The tuna run when I come near, so I was trying to chase them every time that they headed east. It didn’t work. But getting the albatross to talk to them did. Haole, you are going to accomplish great things!”
Haole looked sad at the comment instead of pleased as he might have been. “The porpoise have said that it is too dangerous for me to travel to the Gathering.”
“I expected that,” the Narwhale spoke, “and that is the reason that I came here to meet you today.”
Haole didn’t understand, “How could you have known I was here?”
A great and deep laugh came from the Narwhale’s belly. “The waves are the biggest they’ve been for a month. I knew you couldn’t stay away.”
“I want to go to the Gathering more than anything,” admitted Haole.
The Narwhale looked kindly at him, “I know. And you will go.”
“But…,” Haole’s mind raced. Surely the Narwhale didn’t expect him to make the journey alone. “I don’t even know the way. The porpoise tell me that it’s thousands of miles.” “And it is,” the Narwhale was being patient with Haole. Haole was scared. That’s the truth. He knew he had to go, but for the life of him he could not figure out how he was going to do it. “How will I eat?” The Narwhale was very wise. He had been swimming these oceans for over a hundred years. “Don’t worry about the small details. Once you know that something is the right decision, you need to jump on the opportunity. The details will work themselves out.” “Eating is not a small detail.” Haole felt dumb for saying it as soon as it left his mouth. “And, what about Donna?” The great whale was about to tell Haole the most important thing that Haole would ever hear. Haole didn’t know it at the time, but many years later Haole would look back on this moment as the one instant when he knew for sure what the purpose of his life was. The whale let his nose come to the surface, (for, as you know, a whale has his nose on the top of his head). He blew a great spout of water, and then took a deep breath. “Haole, you must go to the Gathering. I know that you know this already. You must go, for at the Gathering you will accomplish something great - greater than anything that any penguin has ever accomplished. The strange thing, Haole, is that this great thing won’t be what you think it is – and it is likely that no one, no one at all, will notice. It is just like trusting in your own balance. The more you hold on, the more you will fall. Perfect balance comes in relaxing, letting go, and trusting in your own instinct.”
The incredible experience of riding that wave in the darkness was still sharp in Haole’s mind. He heard the words, but Haole was nevertheless struggling with the idea of how he could get there. He thought about the moment of letting go, when he had trusted his own inner balance and pushed himself over the edge in the dark into that beast of a wave. Suddenly it was all clear. What the Narwhale had said about small details made sense. He would go to the Gathering and worry about the details on the way. “I want to leave as soon as possible,” he said suddenly. The Narwhale was pleased. “Good,” he said, “I knew you would come to this decision on your own. Now, to make this journey alone you must harden your mind. Picture yourself on the journey, and then picture yourself arriving at your goal, the Tahitian Islands!” Haole began to do what the Narwhale instructed. He pictured himself on his quest, but he immediately was aware that he pictured Donna swimming next to him. “When I make the journey, I know that I’m suppose to go with Donna,” he said solemnly.
“Yes, the small fur seal,” said the great whale. “She will come with you. I almost forgot the important role she has already played. Don’t worry, Haole, you won’t make this part of the trip without your friend. But, be warned, there will come a time very soon where you will need to act alone.” “When do we leave?” asked Haole. “Go back to the island and tell your friend Donna. But, tell no one else,” cautioned the Narwhale. Take the rest of today to prepare. Rest. Eat a big meal, for it will be a long journey my small friend. Tomorrow I will meet you at first light right here in this same place.” And with that the Narwhale turned his huge body around majestically, cutting the water with his great horn. He arced his tail and gave a tremendous push, sending Haole tumbling in the turbulence, and glided silently away into the empty blue.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Migrating North With Giants


A cool breeze filled with sea spray blew through the light fog as Donna raced above the water (well, of course she is alive!). She held on tightly to the back of a massive sperm whale as it breached through an ocean swell and spray rained down all around her. Donna had been picked up by the whale almost as soon as she had been separated from Haole. She had even gotten some sleep during the early part of the morning, after the storm had died down.
Haole lay next to her on the whale’s back. He was still unconscious and he looked pale from his all night ordeal, that is, if penguins can look pale. Anyway, he didn’t look good and Donna would glance over at him periodically with a deep concern as they raced through the sea.
Apparently, the sperm whales had spent the rest of the night looking for Haole and, in fact, had only found him as they were just about to give up. Luckily, they had come upon him quite by accident as one of them was surfacing to get air.
Haole moaned, moving his head side to side in a dreamlike state, and Donna bent over him to see if he was okay. He twitched as if he were dreaming something that felt utterly real and then he shook himself awake, opening his eyes and looking straight up at Donna. He blinked in disbelief for a second, trying to figure out where he was.
“Are we dead?” he asked innocently, looking to the side at the wisps of fog blowing by.
Donna laughed. “No, silly. We looked for you all night,” she said.
Haole shook himself again as if he didn’t quite believe it. “Who is we?” he asked.
“Me and the whales, of course,” Donna looked at him with concern. The previous night had been quite an ordeal for them both. “Look,” she said, and gestured toward the ocean streaming by, “it’s really wonderful!”
Haole blinked a few times in thought, “Are you sure we’re not dead?” He felt his wings and his chest to make sure he was really there. “What did I hit?” he asked as he felt his head for the first time and moaned, remembering the night before.
Donna placed her flipper on his head to feel the huge lump that was there. “That’s a bad one, alright,” she smiled playfully. “That’s what my mother always says.” She felt the lump again, “You’ll be fine. You hit Bull. He’s the big one. He didn’t mean it. He was just trying to stop you from running away. They all said that you were very fast.”
Haole was pretty confused now, “Who is Bull?” he asked.
Donna looked around at the sea. “Come on,” she said, “get up and look.” She reached out and nudged Haole to his feet.
Haole pushed himself unsteadily to standing. He wobbled for a second, then got his balance but almost lost it again as he peered around him at the spectacle of what was going on. The sea all around them was frothing white. The whale they stood on had a massive, thick dorsal fin – like a small hill on his back. Haole and Donna crouched on it as they watched. The ocean all around them was filled with dorsal fins like this one, cutting through the water. There must have been twelve or fifteen whales all swimming together. Their great bodies breached out of the swells as they swam forward, creating massive splashes. It was like riding in a huge fleet of ships only much better, as these ships were jumping out of the water and sometimes diving beneath it only to reappear moments later, leaping into the air and sending sheets of spray skyward. Donna and Haole were riding the sperm whale migration up the Humboldt current and into the South Pacific, being carried like royalty of the sea.
“It’s so beautiful,” said Donna, “Bull is the big one over there.” She gestured to a massive whale surfacing in an eruption of whitewater just in front of them to their left. “He’s really nice,” she added.
Haole was overwhelmed to almost speechlessness. “I’m glad I’m riding them and not being chased by them,” he managed to mutter under his breath.

They made good time. The sperm whale armada only slowed down for a few hours each night (for they meditate, instead of sleep, just like porpoise) and then again to feed in the middle of each day. The fog lifted by the morning of the second day and the sun became progressively hotter. There was still nothing but ocean in all directions but the world seemed to get larger with the presence of so many whales. Haole didn’t know it yet, but they were already deep into the South Pacific. In fact, if on that morning of the fourth day the entire pod of sperm whales had decided to turn left and swim for two days in that direction, they all would have been in New Zeeland.
Legends are born in the strangest of ways. There seems to be a shift that occurs when people are ready for a hero or a legend to emerge, and it’s not that they start consciously looking or searching for someone extraordinary, but somehow someone arrives. Just by needing a hero, some kind of mechanism is put into place by which one is created. Now, I’m not saying that Haole wouldn’t exist or wouldn’t have been born if there hadn’t been a need for a hero, but the fact remains that the creatures of the ocean were in great need of a hero. They required someone to bring them together. The different animals and fish that lived all across the ocean had become disconnected from the grand scheme that kept them all together and made the entire ocean function to support all of its inhabitants. Some of you may find it strange that Haole becomes that hero, but I tell you that it’s completely natural for the smallest and the most isolated to be catapulted into the role of the hero during times of need. Other people that were the smallest have become heroes all through history – think of Joan of Arc or David, from David and Goliath.
Well, strange or not strange, it was at this moment that the legend truly began, because swimming out a fair distance from the migrating herd of whales that our hero was riding like Neptune, there was a group of giant green sea turtles heading north.
Now, sea turtles are slow on land – painfully slow – but in the water they can swim almost as fast as you can walk. However, they aren’t nearly as fast at swimming as the sperm whales, which can swim faster than you can ride your bike. The turtles had heard the whales coming for some distance behind them and had moved over several hundred feet to let the whales go by.
Old Torque, the lead turtle, didn’t want to get caught in the turbulent water as the whales swam by and so had given them a wide berth. He and the rest of the flotilla were taking it easy. They too were headed toward Tahiti, but they were in no hurry. The giant green sea turtles live to be more than one hundred years old and pride themselves on never being in a hurry. They are constantly going on and on about the importance of being relaxed and mellow, laid back and un-stressed.
So, as the sperm whales approached, the turtles stopped for a moment to watch them swim past. What they saw was something that Old Torque would later say was the most extraordinary sight that he had ever seen in his long eighty years of swimming the oceans. There was a penguin riding on the back of the biggest whale of the pod! A penguin! Old Torque only knew it was a penguin from conversations he had had with migrating sea birds a few times and he was in shock as he realized that this penguin must have come all the way from Antarctica!
Donna had been lying against the whale’s back as they went by and so it was only Haole that the turtle saw. He looked away and then back again several times just to make sure that he was not imagining things, and then he said the most extraordinary thing. He said, “Well, I’ve been waiting to see that sight since I was a small turtle almost eighty years ago.”
“Waiting to see what?” the younger turtle next to him asked.
The old turtle then said something that he’d never said before. “We better hurry,” he announced.
This really threw the young turtle, “But, Torque, we never hurry. Why would we? Life is so mellow,” he said.
Torque stared at the receding whales as he floated in the crystal blue water. “Something that has not happened in a long, long time is going to happen at The Gathering and we need to be there,” he answered. He bobbed in the choppy water as the whale’s bow waves began rolling past them, “That young penguin is going to change the world!”
The younger turtle didn’t understand, but Torque realized quickly that no matter how much he explained, the young turtles would have a hard time understanding. It’s something that you realize as you get older, he thought, that there really are sometimes events that change things for good. He stopped talking at that point and just began swimming north at a good pace. The younger turtle marveled that he had never seen the old wrinkled one swim so fast.

A couple of days later the turtles were stopped, talking to a migrating group of pelicans, when the story of Haole’s journey north took its first real step toward becoming a legend. All Torque did was mention it. He had been waiting to tell someone who could appreciate the news since he had seen Haole two days ago and he quickly told the pelicans how he had seen the penguin on the whale’s back.
The pelicans were immediately interested and asked all sorts of questions, but Torque didn’t really know more than what he had seen, so the conversation ended… but have you ever played a game of telephone? In a good game of telephone you send a message around a circle of people. Each person whispers the message softly into the ear of the person next to them and by the time the message gets all the way around it is so twisted up and changed that sometimes it doesn’t even resemble the original message that was sent. Besides, sea creatures are notorious gossips.
You see, over the course of the next few days, while Haole was being carried across the Tropic of Capricorn and into the tropics by the sperm whales, the pelicans stopped and told the story to several other migrating birds that they encountered, and to a group of walruses living on a rocky outcropping in the channel between New Zealand and Borneo. The thing is that the pelicans added liberally to the story, you know, adding things to make the tale more interesting. Among the things that were added in the beginning was that Haole was driving the whales (not just being given a lift, but actually commanding the whales and steering them through the sea,) and that he was the king of all the penguins. Both of these things were, of course, not true, but they made the story more interesting.
Later that same day when the story was passed on again to a flock of seagulls and again to a bunch of dolphin there were more things added, and even more added when it was passed on the following day to a school of tropical fish and to a lone shark. The story traveled as each animal told several others, who told several others, who told several others and you can see how, in this way, in a very short amount of time, the story began to spread its way across the ocean. It eventually would reach Tahiti, even before Haole and Donna were to arrive, and it would eventually spread all the way back to Scott Island, off the ice sheet and, believe it or not, to the ice sheet itself - all the way back to Haole’s home. The king of the penguins had come to the Gathering to re-establish the ancient communication between all ocean creatures and to bring great healing to the world’s oceans, heralding in a time of great prosperity and happiness…
What a whopper! All Haole had come to do was surf, but you will see, my dear reader, how strange rumors have a way of making themselves come true.