just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Naturalist...

Exploring the pond habitat...frogging...fishing... Jansen the enthusiastic field biologist, revels in the muddy adventure of capturing bullfrogs.

It brings to mind the writings of Annie Dillard.

The pond is popping with life. Midges are swarming over the center, and the edges are clotted with the jellied egg masses of snails. One spring I saw a snapping turtle lumber from the pond to lay her eggs. Now a green heron picks around in the pondweed and bladderwort; two muskrats at the shallow end are stockpiling cattails. Diatoms, which are algae that look under a microscope like cyrstals, multiply so fast you can practically watch a submersed green leaf transform into a brown fuzz. In the plankton, single-cell algae, screw fungi, bacteria, and water mold abound. Insect larvae and nymphs carry on their eating business everywhere in the pond. Stillwater caddises, alderfly larvae, and damselfly and dragonfly nymphs stalk on the bottom debris; mayfly nymphs hide in the weeds, mosquito larvae wriggle near the surface, and red-tailed maggots stick their breathing tubes up from between decayed leaves along the shore. Also at the pond's muddy edges it is easy to see the tiny red tubifex worms and bloodworms; the convulsive jerking of hundreds and hundreds together catches my eye.

I was created from a clot and set in proud, free motion: so were they. So was this rotifer created, this monostyla with its body like a light bulb in which pale organs hang in loops; so was this paramecium created, with a thousand propulsive hairs jerking in unison, whipping it from here to there across a drop and back. Ad majorem Dei gloriam?

"Never lose a holy curiosity," Einstein said; and so I lift my microscope down from the shelf, spread a drop of duck pond on a glass slide, and try to look spring in the eye.

--Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


Yesterday was an historic day in my pedestrian golf career. I broke 100 for the first time. The two other scorecards from the Lancaster Host Golf Course that are in my golf bag are a record of the futility of previous efforts. The hideous 121. The mediocre 112. Then there was the 110 the first time out this year at Crossgates. The 107 at Pilgrims Oak in May. And finally the breakthrough 96 yesterday. O the giddy euphoria of crossing that threshold.