Monday, April 02, 2018

Tiny ferocious creatures

Last week I went with Aneirin and his classmates to Waikumete Stream, the Nile of Glen Eden. We leaned into our reflections and panned, not for gold or garbage, but for macroinvertebrates: for creatures as strange as the syrphid, which has a tail the shape of a syringe, and the salmonfly, which might be a dragon miniaturised by some mad scientist.

A plastic shopping bag, puffed with trapped air, leaking azure slime, floated by. 'Look, kids' I heard myself saying. 'That's a jellyfish, Glen Eden's unique freshwater jellyfish species.' The kids whooped, forgot their macroinvertebrates. Their teacher glared at me. Biology and metaphor do not mix well.

We poured the macroinvertebrates into a bowl, a world. The creatures began to lunge at, to bite each other. We watched, as fascinated as we were helpless. The creatures seemed as noble & pathetic, in their tiny ferocious rivalries, as Maoist sects or Tongan churches or debaters on twitter.

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]


Blogger Richard said...

Great lessons for the kids and Aneiron! I liked biology at school. I have books on invertebrates and invertebrates as I mentioned. But I just recalled I have a copy of John Morton's book of the New Zealand sea shore. Morton was one of my lecturers when I did (the Zoology). He also lectured on biochemistry etc. But I can look up those invertebrates in there also.

Once at Ron's first shop in Balmoral he was buying up copies but I wanted too much for my one for him. I felt a little guilty but it is fascinating, just to have and peruse occasionally.

Smithyman would have been as fascinated as the children!

9:33 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

I see it as a whole new level of reality Richard: a whole new universe!
There's been a bugs exhibition on at the zoo over the summer; I think it's still on. Might interest the grandkids...

11:37 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Hi Scott. Yes it is. Years ago I was top in biology at school. I also did Latin, Maths and English and I liked all. But I went to Auck. Uni. for part of a year. Professor John Morton who wrote the book was there (he was quite an amusing fellow). There was also an (mainly entomologist) whose name was also Taylor. They said then (1966) that every time they went out looking in an area for insects etc they find new kinds. And there are millions of those things. In books they are wonderful but not always so good in reality! The same applies to plants and fungi and so on. It seems the numbers are infinite.

But you can see some people disappearing into those subjects. I sold two copies of a book about Ants when I had my store. Recently I saw some lit. books for sale at OUP but I was mostly interested in a book about wasps.

I am finding as I have some borer and ant (damaged some of my softer timber beams, not the main ones, although borer make their way into those if you leave it); I am finding that there are endless things that destroy our buildings and so on. Some of course are good. Spiders over all kill flies and other harmful insects. But there are things that kill one thing you want killed but not the other thing and so on!

But yes, it is a fascinating area. My daughter might take the kids into the zoo. The three youngest would like it. Sebastian is 15 soon but he might go also...

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