As I have done for a few years now, I spent the day with Liz Ettelson and Rebecca Grill of Highland Park and several Trout Unlimited members to show and tell High School Seniors taking an Environmental Science class how benthic macroinvertebrate surveys are performed. Each time I find myself in the field, I kick myself for not doing this more. And I am always surprised how the Latin names for the bugs comes flooding back into memory. If only I could remember other stuff like I remember my Latin!!
It was misty but warm enough to be outside all day. It had rained hard during the night, so we did not find a lot of critters as the stream level was still high and flowing overwell, but the ones we did find reinforced our feeling that the cool spring had significantly slowed the maturation of the macros. On the other hand, the white suckers were running upstream to spawn, which was delightful to see. More than one student was shocked by a large, several pound animal splashing along a leg as the creatures slid by to find a quiet pool. The company during the day was wonderful, as always, with Dr. Marty Berg from Loyola, Dr. Barry and Myra Coddens (TU), Jim Tingley (TU), Bob DeGraff (TU), Darwin Adams (TU), and Marna Coleman (TU) who also kindly provided a luncheon for the slightly damp crew.
The Courtright clan has a funny way of
showing affection. Sometimes, affection takes the form of not
bothering others of the clan. For example, it can be months between
phone calls and years between visits. In another family this might mean that we don’t really like each other.
Now, those of you with a highly developed sense of
psychology might object to this characterization. Avoidance, or worse, sheer laziness, is not
a virtue and is a serious sin in most cultures. And one might postulate that we actually prefer to avoid each other or worse, are too lazy to pick up the phone. But in this case, we can say with a straight face that letting each other be is a
good thing and a form of respect. Really. Not kidding. You say thou doth protest too much? Hmmm.
To be sure, I am confident that if I called my brother, and
suggested that I could use help in the yard or with the car or the
roof, for example, he would show up with little fanfare. If a
bedroom is offered freely, trips are made with little planning
involved. If there is a need, hands and opinions appear.
But our clan is a restless
bunch and not particularly needy. We spread out. We go about our
business. We are independent once launched. We are fairly
opinionated and more than fairly stubborn. We do not suffer fools gladly. And
so we tend to like our own counsel best without elaborate
consultations. The word stoic is thrown around casually.
However, we are not so self-centered to
think that everyone is or should be stoic. In fact, there are those
of us who are in possession of evidence that demonstrates that some
people are social creatures. True. In fact, it appears factually correct that most people are social creatures. It’s all apparently
part of the genetic code. To suggest that the Courtright clan is
part of some genetic backwater is, perhaps, scientifically inaccurate
to the extent that scientists avoid making subjective judgments. Different
traits are just different, and whether they represent an advantageous
adaptation or the opposite is only determinable in hindsight, if at
all. We are just different.
Nevertheless, it is understood that
there might be some value in acknowledging the majority in at least
this aspect of human behavior. Accordingly, and it must be admitted
that, even measured against the typical length of our tendency to
ruminate, this is an unusually long-winded attempt to say that we
will be undertaking to reach out to other members of the clan on a
more, mmmmm, regular basis.
I had a girlfriend who once commented on our compatibility by invoking the Garfield the Cat (she) vs. Odie (me) metaphor. She was right about a lot of things, but not that. It turns out that cats and I get along just fine.
Punkin came to us in about 1996. I am sure that it was the night before Halloween. She was a tiny, wet, sadly bedraggled kitten and was just laying in the street outside our home. I scooped her up and brought her in after everyone else had gone to bed. I proceeded to clean her up and made a late night trip to a store to get essentials and a warm blanket for a cardboard box. Karen discovered that we had a guest the next morning and called me at work. "So, we have a cat now?" she said, amused. That was the beginning of our 18 year love affair with our princess. She followed us - especially me - everywhere. She would even wait for me outside the shower every morning. While she was unarguably attached to me, she was a constant source of affection for all of us. We will miss you, Punkin. A lot.