Once we were all around the table, eating dinner, when the girl, then in her
mid-teens, gave a sharp intake of breath, pointed a trembling finger up at a
corner of the room and said, "There's a spider up there!"


Without looking I said, "Yes, I know, but if you just ignore her she'll be


Blank stares and surprised looks all around.


The mom, my love interest, is now used to this and even gets a bit into it,
and dutifully reports her sightings of hawks and owls, and feeds the
squirrels who come to the back door (she balks at handing them the peanut,
as I do), even giving them names but her friends and colleagues still see me
as rather strange.


Once, when we went to a staff party, I was sternly told, "Now Barry, you can
talk about anything you like, except no politics, no religion (I'm agnostic
at best), no science (she meant things like evolution vs creationism), or
stuff like that."


Since I know little to nothing about sports, popular entertainment, food, or
cars, there wasn't much left.  The weather, even among Canadians, only goes
so far.


I got a strange look when I invited HER to one of MY gatherings.   I was
asked if we'd be dancing or playing games or whatever, and I said no.


"What do you do?"

"Mostly talk."

Sigh.another strange look.


BUT, she went, and enjoyed herself and continues to do so..talking's okay,
it turns out, even about politics, religion, science and stuff like that.


But once, very early in our relationship (I had known her for years, but she
was married, and it was only after her widowhood that we linked up.I knew
and liked her late husband) she was at the house when.well.let's put it this
way.  I was struggling with something and finally turned to her and said,
"Here, hold this, but exactly as I am and  don't get it anywhere near your


"This" was a full-grown Double-crested Cormorant.   She gamely did so, but
let me know it was not a highlight of her life.  




(PS..the cormorant had run into some problems, yes, but was ultimately
successfully rehabbed back to the wild; and a new book is due about that
species, to be published by Yale University Press and illustrated by..yep..)


From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration-
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Judith Stoffer
Sent: January-18-14 9:48 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [SCIART] "Down the rabbit hole" stories


Yes, Barry, this is all familiar to me too. My LR has a corner library
that's mostly medical/biosci books; a wall of skulls; a tray of dead/found
insects as the centerpiece at the DR table. My daughter wrote her college
application on the theme of being afraid to open the downstairs freezer in
fear of what small-mammal bodies she would find. I still have the skeletal
remains of a whole deer (and one of my cats) that I buried, then dug up and
cleaned. It goes on and on. Outsiders just don't understand. To almost
everyone in my daily life, it seems that "nature' is something you only see
on TV and that the real thing is, well, icky and mostly too much trouble to

At this stage in my life I have more complications. It's a small apartment,
so I keep getting rid of furniture to accommodate the 7 bicycles Steve and I
park in the living room. Outsiders just don't seem to understand that one,

So, be of good cheer! Your "bros" are here in your online community, and
delighted to hear your stories. And maybe this is an opportunity to show
this family how delightful it is to be truly connected to the biological
environment that we, really, cannot live without. They have no idea what a
marvelous tourguide they have at their fingertips.

"Home isn't where our house is, but wherever we are understood." - Christian
Morgenstern (1871-1914)


ps: Once hosted a field mouse mom who made her nest in the closet by chewing
small holes out of the middle of every one of the pieces of sewing fabric I
had stored there. Aargh. Yes, Linda, I agree. It seems to me that we think
of them as pests because it makes us feel better about ourselves when they
outwit us.


Judith A. Stoffer
Baltimore, MD, USA

The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other
ages you've been. -Madeleine L'Engle, writer (1918-2007)


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