Study Hall

It’s warm and muggy here on the gulf coast after two days of delicious rain. The garden is happy, happy. For lunch, Rich and I went down to the little open air cafe by the Bay because he is leaving on business for a bit. We were joined by these garden variety Brown Pelicans. I think these guys are just great: clowns on land, grace in motion. They always make me smile.Pelican

Now the Snarl and I are spending a quiet afternoon studying the same thing: the politics of the Endangered Species Act. We both have to know the ins and outs of this Department of the Interior plan for preserving threatened wildlife in this country. She has to know it in minute detail, for an environment class, and I have to know it for my work as a docent. I’ve gotten behind this winter so when I return to Chicago in 3 weeks I have to be ready to plow through the remaining parts of my program so I can get my Steve Irwin jacket in June. That means nose to the grindstone these next few weeks.

The Act is administered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (you knew that, didn’t you?) and lately, more species have come off the list than gone on. That’s pretty much a good thing. Bald Eagles are the most recent along with the Gray Wolves that haunt the woods around Lost Loon Lodge, home of The Bud Show (formerly, the Bud and Jan Show. sigh.) They’re still horsing around on Polar Bears and lawsuits are pending because they’ve been horsing around so long. Here’s something interesting: once an animal goes on the list we- and I’m using the communal bureaucratic "we" here-we don’t protect endangered species; we are charged with protecting their habitats. You see the problem with the polar bears, right?  Right. This is where I become my mother’s daughter and start muttering up a blue cloud.

But, because it’s study hall and it’s toward the end of the school year and it’s hot, well, we’re ever so slightly misbehaving. It started with her wanting to know the Interior Secretary’s name and I said, "I think it’s Dirk something…" (Kempthorne). The Snarl said, "head?" and I said no, that was Cheney and well, you know, it was a slide from there. We agreed it must be Dirk or Dick something or other. We decided to drink a toast to that, now that she’s old enough to drink, so we were splitting a beer when I said, "The Condor chick took off" and she said, "What???" and I said, "You know, the California Condor chick took off!" and she said, "Where’d he go?"

"You know! Out of the nest! But that was last October. By now, he’s really gone." "What? Where???" This required a demonstration on my part and since I’m SO easy on half a beer in the afternoon that it isn’t pretty, well, it was quite a good demonstration.  Very good winging and excellent sound effects.  Now the Snarl has recovered from hysterics and announced that she can’t study here so she’s going to the library. It’s just as well because I was about to start throwing jelly beans. Terrible role model.Condorres

BTW, this California Condor chick, # 412, flew 15 feet on his first flight out last fall. It was only the second Condor chick to fledge in the wild in 14 years. These spectacular birds were nearly extinct as a result of DDT, lead poisoning and encounters with power lines; in 1982 there were only 22 birds left, all in captivity. The birds that were bred under the Species Survival Plan (started at the Lincoln Park Zoo!) were conditioned to avoid power lines and teach their children well. There are currently close to 300 birds living, almost half in the wild. Every time a pair successfully nests and a chick fledges in the wild, we’re one step closer. Closer to repairing the damage and sharing this Good Planet.
Speaking of: (oh, what a lead in…) It’s Good Planets week! Send me your photos of this beautiful earth. They are so often better than a thousand words. This one is open-ended so you choose your favorite photo that speaks to you of the natural world. Maybe this is that good opportunity to share some Spring fever you’ve been snapping. I think in two weeks I’ll encourage a water theme, since 71% of the earth is. Water. I’m starting to compile them now for posting this Saturday. I’ll be watching The Riches marathon Friday night (goodness, I love me some stories of Hungarian gypsies in suburbia) so earlier is better than later. Thanks! They come to me at

12 responses to “Study Hall

  1. Oy vay, my aching head. Sinus headache. So much not fun!

    I called the Grand Marais cabin folks. You need to let me know the dates you can come, please, dearie!

    I can just imagine your pantomime for the Snarl. Very funny stuff.


  2. The photo of the pelican in flight is a classic!!! I’d love to see you in action with Snarl, especially after a beer (excuse me – half a beer). You must be a cheap drunk (like me). I tried to send you a photo and it came back. Mis-typed it, I’m sure. I will try again. Study hard!!

  3. I don’t got many “scenics” — maybe one which I will send you.

  4. Your study hall sounds like me when I decide to amuse myself or others. I get more like that on coffee than I do on beer though. I’m already kind of hyper, so beer calms me down whereas caffeine…Hope the test goes well and wish I had been able to take a photo of the rainbow. Very symbolic, I thought.

  5. My ex was drunk at the movies… Top Gun, actually… and he started throwing M&M’s… I was mortified! Now you tell me about potential food fights, hmmm… am I going to have to come down there? (wink)

    The Pelican Chorus
    by Edward Lear

    King and Queen of the Pelicans we;
    No other Birds so grand we see!
    None but we have feet like fins!
    With lovely leathery throats and chins!
    Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
    We think no Birds so happy as we!
    Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill!
    We think so then, and we thought so still!

  6. My suspicions regarding our Vicki being an overachiever proved to be correct!

    The story of California Condor #412 might make a good chick flick.

    Come Friday night, I’ll be watching The Fishes marathon. May I send a photo taken by my Wesley? He spent the last 3 days at the Olympic Park Institute. We’re Birkenstocked Burkeans here.

  7. I love that you think of those pelicans as *garden variety*!

  8. Pelicans are my absolute favorite water bird. As you said, they are indeed clowns. Three weeks? You’ll be gone when I get back. How am I supposed to treat you to shrimp. I owe you.

  9. You bad, bad girls.
    I’ve never gotten tipsy with my Mom, but I bet the scene would be similar to yours and the Snarl’s.

  10. You are a sponge for information that’s incredibly important. I’m jealous that you have pelicans eyeing you up… I heard on radio news this week that mannatees are no longer an endangered species and are reproducing like gangbusters!

    Hey, Vicki, sounds like the Snarl gets an attitude like my snarly Gina. Yep, I’d get tipsy on a beer while studying and throw jelly beans in a heartbeat. Life is too short to be so very serious.

  11. Now that is a study hall.
    I never get tired of pelcans either. In Cedar Key they land on your boat as you return to harbor to beg a snack.

    “We know you’ve got leftover bait in the bucket … hand it over!”

    Modern day Pteradactyls.

  12. Pelicans always remind me of B-52s in flight. They look too big to stay up in the air but somehow they manage it. 🙂

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