April 28 – Mermet Springs

Tuesday we had a meeting with an accreditation consultant.  Our program is in pretty good shape, but we need to clean up some of our paperwork.  In scuba class we took the final exam.  It was easy, but I had studied.  The instructor had video of some of his dive trips playing the whole time.  That was fun to watch.  My tanks had passed inspection and were filled.  He didn’t charge me for the inspections because it saves him a couple of fills while we’re at our open water dive site.  When I got home I photographed some flowers around the yard.  Savannah had a soccer game on a very muddy field.  They lost 10-0 (which is a skunk) with 43 seconds left in the game.  She’s tired of losing, she’s tired of being sore and injured, she’s just plain tired.  I don’t think our team has scored a goal all season.

Lily of the Valley, a nice ornamental.                                                 Creeping Charlie, a weed.
Bleeding Hearts, Stacey’s favorite

Columbine

Wednesday I took the vert class to Lowell’s.  A lot of good birds were hitting Lowell’s feeder, so we just watched them for awhile.  Lowell took us around the lake in the pontoon.  We saw a black-crowned night heron, which I haven’t seen in a long time.  The goslings had hatched out of the eggs, and were trying to jump out of the nest.  It was kind of funny.  The students left, but Lowell, Leo and I prowled around looking at wildflowers.


Wild strawberry.  Blue-eyed grass–hope to see it when the buds open.

Funnel web spider, moisturized.

These land snails come out in the rain every spring.

Hey, get us out of here!

Apple cedar rust.  Not really pretty, but interesting.

Another yucky fungus, called “judas ear” or “jelly ear”, and is apparently edible..

Pussytoes

We had a fun afternoon lab.  I held a quiz game to help them study for next week’s lab exam.  One student was doing really well, but when she hit the table to indicate that she had the answer, she yelled, “I banged first!”  She put her head down on the table in embarrassment.  A few minutes later, another student rang in first, but had only half the answer, which wasn’t adequate.  She exclaimed, “F*&$ me!” without any shame at all. 

Thursday was a long, crazy day, starting with seminar, then Bio II lecture, two meetings with students and my POLIS presentation on dragonflies in the afternoon.  I went well, but was followed immediately by a PR photo op with members of the Environmental Club.  We put flags out where the prairie is going.  They held a brief plant sale when POLIS was getting out and sold a good number of our leftover plants.  I met Stacey and we went to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings.  We went straight to the reception for the photography contest at John Wood Community College.  A fellow member of my camera club won two third places, one in architecture and another in landscapes.  I took a first in the animals category with a butterfly photo.

The Goatweed Leafwing.

Friday I went to Carthage (IL) for Kids Conservation Day.  It wasn’t held at Kibbe because of all the rain, which is too bad.  It’s much more fun there.  I had skipped last year because I was kind of burned out on it.  Turns out it was cancelled anyway.  This I only agreed to do it because my trusty student Laura agreed to help.  We see about 15 groups of students, each of which gets 15 minutes of our time.  I usually talk about insects, using a big plastic bee, a box full of dead bees and wasps, and some live cockroaches for props.  The kids love it, but it’s draining.  With Laura helping it was a lot easier.  Still, at the end my voice was pretty shot.  It was kind of a cold day, and the cockroaches wouldn’t hiss.  They got dropped a lot too.  When it was over we went over to my friend Jim’s station.  He had three turtles and a bunch of snakes, and he was kind enough to get them out for my camera.

Hognose snake. Heterodon platyrhinos

Ringneck snake, Diadophis punctatus

Northern
Red-bellied Snake
, Storeria occipitomaculata

Blue racer, Coluber constrictor

It was prom night for Savannah.  She spent half the day preparing.  It’s been a month or more in the making, with the purchase, repair and cleaning of the dress.  This week it was decorating and having the nails done.  Fortunately, a soccer game was cancelled (due to our glorious rain), freeing up some time.

Savannah and Joey, ready for prom.  I told her date that all he had to do was not ditch her and get arrested.  In so doing he could exceed expectations set by last year’s experience.

Saturday morning I left early to drive down to Mermet Springs.  It’s a big old quarry with lots of interesting large vehicles sunk in it.  It was a lovely drive down, not raining as I expected.  The students had camped out that night and gotten rained on quite a bit.  We started our first open water dive by going down to a platform at 20 feet.  I had some trouble getting my ears equalized, but eventually adjusted.  We fed bits of hot dogs to the bluegills, which apparently grow quite large on a diet of hot dogs.  It had looked like the water was really clear because you could see fish swimming around from the dock.  But underwater, visibility was only about 3 feet.  It was very disorienting.  We did a few skills then ascended along a rope tied to a buoy.  This was when my ears really went out of whack and the whole world seemed like it was spinning.  This effect led shortly to the loss of my lunch and exit from the water.  I recovered while the rest of the students completed the dive.  I changed into street clothes and sat out the second dive.  We went to the hotel in Metropolis, Illinois, passing the giant statue of Superman.  And there was a coyote running in a field along the way.  We had dinner at Willy Jack’s, which has some great burgers.  A live band was supposed to play and film a video.  We waited quite awhile, but they never got started.  We gave up and went back to the hotel.  The students gave the hot tub a workout, then slept 5 in one room. 

Bluegills right in my face.  I even touched a few, but they feel about the same as when you’re filleting them.

Sunday morning my ears were still wonky, so after helping the others get ready and taking lots of pictures, I headed out.  I haven’t entirely given up yet.  The instructor is willing to give me private sessions at his pool to see if I can get my ears to cooperate.  I stopped at the Bass Pro Shops in St. Louis and bought some more spinnerbaits.  I had some points on my credit card and the batch only cost me $0.20.  Score!  I was really tired, so I crashed when I got home.  It was good to see the fam again.

Brent models the thick wetsuits required in the cold water.  Group photo at the giant catfish.  Laura, Brent, Ashley, Patrick, Naomi, Rob, Me.

Monday I set up a lab practical for my Bio II class.  I had to hike out by the railroad tracks to get some wildflowers.  Things have changed a lot in two weeks.  We kept the atmosphere loose.  Most of them did well.  There were even two perfect scores.  When I got home I mowed the lawn, which was insanely high, and did the string trimming.  N=1 for the season.  I photographed some subjects around the yard.

Wild geraniums from North Campus.

Robin nest in the spruce in the front yard.

Fire pink from the prairie.

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