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Panda-Interpreting Law Partner Folds Up Sails, Sets Down Roots

Before motherhood and gardening took over, lawyer volunteered at Zoo Atlanta and took island-hopping vacations

, Daily Report

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Jones Day partner Lillian Caudle grows fruit, vegetables and herbs at her Morningside home. She grew up watching her mother garden and now enjoys passing along the skills to her young son.
Jones Day partner Lillian Caudle grows fruit, vegetables and herbs at her Morningside home. She grew up watching her mother garden and now enjoys passing along the skills to her young son.

Jones Day partner Lillian Caudle speaks of her interests in two parts: pre-motherhood and post-motherhood. Before the birth of her son four years ago, Caudle and her husband enjoyed sailing the British Virgin Islands to escape the stresses of everyday life. She also spent time as a volunteer at Zoo Atlanta as a panda interpreter. Today, Caudle stays closer to home, dedicating her spare time to her bountiful vegetable garden, a family tradition she hopes to pass on to her son.

Caudle spoke to the Daily Report about her varied interests and her gardening skills she puts to use on her rooftop deck.

Before motherhood, you took several trips to the British Virgin Islands. Tell me a little about that.

My husband and I took these trips with friends, some of whom we've known for more than 20 years. We sailed from island to island and found it to be probably the most perfect vacation in the world because you are off the grid and in the middle of natural beauty and a million stars. It's just amazing.

Who sailed the boat?

My husband and a dear friend of ours are the most seaworthy, but we all learned how to pitch in. I usually spent a lot of time navigating with the charts and driving the dingy.

How long would you all go out?

You pick up your boat on a Saturday and you sail for a week. Each night you moor at a different island in the chain and then you take the dingy to shore and maybe have dinner at a little beachside restaurant. Then, you dingy back to the boat where you spend the night and the next morning you get up and sail on to the next island.

How many friends would go with you?

We've chartered six-person boats and eight-person boats.

Was it ever hard to be cooped up with that many people for a week?

Not at all.

What was your favorite part of the trip?

Absolutely, it is the island called Anegada, which is the most remote of the islands in the British Virgin Islands. It is so simple, so remote and so gorgeous and the stars out there are unlike any stars I've ever seen in my life anywhere else on Earth.

You were a panda interpreter at Zoo Atlanta. What did that entail?

To be a panda bear interpreter we went through a couple of days of training from the professional zookeepers to learn about the pandas' natural habitat, efforts for conservation, the development of the panda, their life cycle and their activities with the goal of being an interactive part of the panda exhibit. So when the zoo-going public came to the exhibit they could ask questions of us, and we were informed and could answer their questions. Pandas sleep a lot and sometimes the public might be disappointed [that the panda is not awake]. There is an informed interpreter explaining why that's the case and to add to the experience by offering educational information. It was really fun because people would stop and ask questions. So even if the pandas weren't particularly active that day, the public got more out of their visit because the interpreters were there.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I grew up in the Washington D.C. area where the [Smithsonian Institution's] National Zoo was one of the rare zoos growing up that had giant pandas, and they've always fascinated me.

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