Liam shuffled behind the professor as they hiked through the Hoh Rain Forest checking the precipitation sensors. Liam chuckled at the sound of the windbreaker pants rubbing between the professors legs. The Professor wasn’t obese, at least not according to the recent BMI charts. He was unfit, average height for a man. Liam suspected the only exercise the professor got was when they were in the rain forests working. Professor Bartholomew Hall was late 70s , and had lots of experience as meteorologist and teaching meteorology. His blue eyes were bright and didn’t show his age. Liam suspected it was because his mind was active.
Liam worked out every chance he got. Somewhat obsessed with physical fitness. He believed in the mind body connection. His 6 foot 3 inch frame and upper body strength he suspected is why the professor always asked him to join him on this hikes. Liam could easily carry the 50 lb back pack with all their equipment and food for the day; although the professor is on Liam’s dissertation committee. Liam enjoyed being out in the Olympic national park, he hiked there every summer with Zip. This was his final year in graduate school and after graduation he planned to propose to her.
“What’s her name again?”
“Zip, short for Zipporah” Liam responded, upset at the forced dialogue. He and Professor Hall had been in the Olympic rainforest studying the rainfall for 3 weeks now. They had run out of things to discuss with the weather and impact the water harvesting program had on the environment. He was anxious to get home, back on campus and yes to see Zip.
“She’s a graduate student majoring religious studies” he knew that would upset the professor
“Huh,one of those people?” the professor asked with sudden intrigue. Liam chose to ignore the question. He knows Zip’s beliefs made her … different. She was smart, confident and balanced him out. Sometimes he did question her religious convictions, but she wasn’t a fanatic so he left her alone. He admired her passion for all she believed in. From his point of view, she was the perfect woman.
“Rainfall is no different than last year, nor significantly different than the years prior to the harvesting program” he said trying to get the professor off the subject of Zip.
“Your a graduate student in environment studies and it doesn’t bother you there is negligible change rainfall since the harvesting program started?” the professor asked, hoping to get Liam to think beyond the numbers.
“Data doesn’t lie, all we’ve done is prove there’s no impact on the weather. People who make an issue of it are no different than the Climate change activists of the 21st century!” Liam declared.
“You’re right, … data doesn’t lie, but those activists forced change in human behavior that helped the environment – the environment you are studying now” professor said as he was checking his data analyzer for the transpiration rate of the forest during the 3 weeks. “Yeah, let’s go home a week early” professor stated somberly. “I’ll call for the transport to pick us up tomorrow”.
Liam hid his excitement and didn’t see the professor’s disappointment nor concern. They packed up and headed back to camp. Liam cooked his traditional family recipe for fajitas, this recipe has been passed down through the Bahorona family for over 400 years. Liam was proud of his heritage. Liam was thinking of his mother and sister when he heard Dr. B “Liam, the water cycle is finite and contained.”
“Yes, I know” Liam retorted.
“So just hypothesize what would happen if you introduced water to a finite already balance cycle”
“Professor, the harvesting program has been going on since before I was born. I’ve drank the water the my entire life -there’s just no evidence there’s a problem-“
“Then what’s the problem with stating a hypothesis?” the professor cut him off.
“Fine, the cycle should be unbalanced but clearly it’s not. There’s no visible change in weather patterns over the past 90 years. Maybe there’s something going on… like how astro-physicists once speculated about dark matter to help explain the expansion of the universe when no other explanation was possible. Now we have dark matter drives that help us travel faster than light.” Liam stated, showing his growing frustration. The professor knew he needed to back down. Liam went to his cabin to sleep.
Thunder and lightening kept them both up. The professor remained in meditative thought on the ride home. The transpiration rates of the forest increased exponentially while he and Liam were in the forest. He wasn’t sure what it meant. Liam found the silence somewhat awkward, but he didn’t want to start an empty conversation. He knew when Professor Bartholomew was in deep thought he was processing information. Liam was often impressed with his ability to focus for hours at a time. It was a discipline he was working on. The ride back to Seattle was bumpier than normal due to another incoming storm. Unfortunately the fog prevented being able to see the snow capped mountains and water of Puget Sound upon descent. Liam hoped to catch the sight of an Orca pod in the area.
“Liam, we have some work to do when we get back home. I need you in the lab early tomorrow morning.”
“No problem SIR!” Liam excited at the thought of spending time with Zip tonight. The transport banked right with a sudden force that through Liam and the professor out their seats. The professor bumped his head on the seat rail in front of him.
Though a little dizzy and shocked from the head trauma, “I’m all right” he declared.
“WHAT WAS THAT?” Liam yelled to the pilots.
“Sorry sir, we fell a thousand feet and almost hit some trees. We are coming up on campus now” the pilot responded. Liam didn’t realize they descended so fast. The transports gravitation support kept the cabin at constant pressure to ensure comfortable transport. The transport landed at the East Montlake park landing pad. Liam attempted to help unload the transport, when the professor waved him off and said,
“Go see Zip and enjoy your evening.”