Giving Thanks

Okay, let’s try this post again! Here’s hoping the blogging gremlins aren’t out to get me two days in a row…

I have never been a big Thanksgiving lover. I rarely stuff myself silly, I hate turkey with a burning passion, and I really, REALLY hate going around the table saying what I’m thankful for each year. When I was a kid, I always wondered if anyone would notice that I recycled the list of things I was thankful for – my family, my pets, the dinner – when it came time for the dreaded thanksgiving roundtable. I don’t know. There’s something about Thanksgiving that just doesn’t suit me.  I am not a group sharing kind of person.  I was incredibly shy as a kid and being forced to talk about my feelings…  Well, I didn’t like it.  It soured me on Thanksgiving, maybe forever.

That’s not to say that I’m not thankful for things. I am grateful for so, so many things! Today I’m going to share 5 insect and science related things I’m thankful for this year. They include…

Belostoma flumineum in the pond

Upper Pond

Upper pond at Prairie Ridge, home of the Belostoma

I spent several summers trying to find the giant water bug Belostoma flumineum in Arizona. It’s not an uncommon species there and both my students and I would find them all the time on field trips. However, without fail, as soon as I wanted even 10 to do some sort of experiment, they were absolutely nowhere to be found. Imagine my delight when I discovered a huge population of them in one of the ponds at the field station where I work last month. I’m FINALLY going to be able to do a few experiments I’ve wanted to do. Exciting!

Dramatic Changes in the seasons


Fall foliage

I’ve mentioned before that I come from the land of unimpressive falls, so I have been particularly fascinated by the seasons in North Carolina. One of the best parts has been watching the insects disappear for the winter in succession. While I am sure I’ll miss going out on a warm December or January day to find a whole slew of insects like I did in Arizona, there’s something about the finality of fall, the approach of the cold weather, that I find appealing. Besides, nothing is more exciting than seeing something completely out of place. I was leading a tour group last week and actually squealed out loud when a monarch flew past. I couldn’t help it. She was ratty, worn, and hardly able to fly in the cool weather, but there she was, a whole month after I saw my last adult. That wouldn’t have been so exciting in Arizona, but it’s terribly exciting here.  Now I can’t wait for spring to watch everything reappear!

Comet darners

comet darner female

Comet darner female

You know when you’ve spent your whole life looking at photos of something, hoping you’ll have a chance to see it in the wild one day? That’s how I felt about comet darners from the moment I learned to appreciate dragonflies. They’re huge, showy, fantastically beautiful creatures, so I’d always hoped that I would run into one someday. Then I saw one the very first day I visited the field station. I’ve since learned that they’re often at the pond, so I now see them on a semi-regular basis. I feel so lucky to be close to comet darners! A five-minute walk down the hill and there they are, zooming around over the water.

Carnivorous plants

Venus fly trap

Venus fly trap

I’ve been fascinated by carnivorous plants as long as I can remember. Now I live in one of the best places in the world for finding carnivorous plants! I was so excited to see that venus flytrap up there, I almost cried with happiness. I am not a weepy woman by any means, but some things are just so exciting that you start to feel teary. I am thankful to live close to so many carnivorous plant species.

5. My job


Whale skeletons

It occurred to me the other day that deep down, I’ve always wanted a job at a natural history museum. I’ve never wanted to be a taxonomist or systematist though, so I had always assumed that I would never get the museum job I dreamed of. Suddenly, I find myself working at a natural history museum!!! Right when I needed it, everything I love to do was wrapped up into a single museum-based position and dumped right in my lap. I have awesome coworkers and I work in a beautiful place with people appreciate the natural world the same way I do.  I love the variety of tasks that I get to do and the fact that I get to work at both the swanky museum buildings downtown and the field station. Honestly, I don’t think I could ever find another job as perfect as this one. I am very thankful that I have it.

These are only a few of the things I’m thankful for, but it’s a start. Anyone else want to share an insect or science-related thing they’re thankful for? I’d love to hear them if you’re willing to share! Just leave a comment below.

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth