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A Circle of Life

I remember distinctly when I was born. I found myself desperately trying to break out of my egg. Then I was standing in a dark cave, (my burrow.) My parents were looking fondly at me. That's how I entered the world.

For the next few days, Mom stayed with me while Dad fished for us. He'd only bring enough fish for all of us a few times, but ten times a day he'd fish just for me. I was so honored! Later on, both he and Mom went fishing and from that day on, they always just brought enough for me. I guess they ate theirs outside. My chick years were really perfect, despite the fact that I wasn't allowed to go out of doors.

Months went by and I grew into a puffling. It was almost time for us to migrate, except Mom and Dad would go first with other parents and adults, (in late August,) and I would leave in early September, with the other pufflings.

A few days before my parents decided to migrate, they took me out into the world with them. The light nearly blinded me and for the first time since birth, I wanted to stay inside. But my parents led me to the ocean. They wanted me to know what I had to follow to my winter home and where it was. I played near the shore with other pufflings and blond- haired children while my parents fished for us. We followed this routine up 'til the day they left.

It was night when my parents woke me up. They tapped me on my beak to say "good bye." I watched them fly away.

A few weeks later, a bunch of pufflings I'd been hanging out with since my parents left decided we should migrate too. We all slept the day before so we would have enough energy to migrate at night. At dusk, we met by one of our burrows and took off.

A great deal of confusion came with my first migration. There were many sets of lights that all looked like moon beams on the ocean. Some pufflings said we should land anywhere 'cause all of the lights were on the surface of the ocean. Others said half of the lights were false. My friends decided to land near the lights on our left. That was our big mistake.

The lights we landed nearby really were false and we found ourselves in this odd, smelly, dangerous place. My parents had told me this is where people live and how I should avoid it since it was so smelly and dangerous. I never really believed them though, not until now. Many of us got killed by these huge animals and oddly shaped trees, with wheels. I was running away from this beast who shook the earth every time he made a sound like "RUFFF" when I hit my head on some blunt object. Then, everything went black.

I found myself in this flimsy, dark room with a hole in the ceiling. It smelled like the shoes the children took off at the ocean. Many other pufflings were in there with me. Some were conscious, some weren't. We were all wounded. I was just beginning to enjoy myself when there was this JERK!! I could swear, the room started to move. We pufflings clung to each other in terror. Finally, the room stopped moving.

Gentle hands lifted me out of the room and I found myself staring into the face of a smiling child. Other children surrounded her, each holding a puffling. Between them were rooms, identical to the room I'd been in. I was truly panicking until I noticed the landscape around me. I was near the ocean! This was where I was supposed to be! Before I gasped for joy, the girl stood up. She swung me between her legs three times and let me go. I was flying over the ocean! Behind me, other pufflings were being released too. We were free.

Several weeks later, we got to dry land. (I later learned that the land was called Argentina.) Argentina was nothing like where I was born, (which my parents told me was named Iceland.) For one thing, peoples' hair was dark instead of blond. Another is that they spoke an entirely different language.

I didn't find my parents in Argentina but I did find the remains of my friends. I spent the next three weeks with them. Together, we grew from immature pufflings into mature and sensible puffins.

When I was four, my friends decided to leave Argentina and go back to Iceland. We thought we had matured since our accident and wanted to see our pufflinghood home again. Following the example we did in Iceland, we slept through one April day and met by one's burrow at night. And we were off, without any trouble this time.

My months in Iceland were like a vacation. All I had to do was make a new burrow to live in and catch fish for myself. Then I was free to play at the shore, (although I did not do that as frequently as I would have if I were younger,) and socialize with other puffins.

The end of the summer came once again, and my friends and I made a safe journey back to South America. Only this time we migrated to a place called Peru.

In Peru that winter I met a handsome male puffin who was also attracted to me. We made plans to migrate back to Iceland and breed together. So in April, I left my friends. (Most of them also had plans with a puffin of the opposite gender too.) I flew to Iceland with my new husband.

In Iceland, my husband made a burrow while I fished for us. Then we tapped our beaks together and bred. Afterwards, I went into our new home. I would be in there for quite awhile.

Some weeks later, I laid an egg and some weeks after that, just as my husband got some fish for me, the egg began to crack. We stared in wonder. Soon, the egg collapsed and I found myself looking at my chick. As my husband and I stared fondly at him, I knew a circle of life had completed.

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