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
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
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!
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.
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
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.