Mary Beth Writes

3/23/2023

This is an updated rerun of a story I posted last spring.

This is about Stream Monitoring and How to Do It. You don’t have to be a man to do this, but many are and that’s as close to the obvious joke as I’m going to go.

Len and his volunteer pal Tom enjoy this volunteer gig a lot. Once each month in the summer they go to the same stretch of the same stream to check water quality and to discover what creatures are lurking in the water and muck.  

Before they began doing this they completed a couple hours of training to understand what’s being looked for and how the testing equipment works. And they received hip waders!

Len always comes home smelling exuberantly of a pond. They collect water in which they perform tests to measure various qualities of the water. They dig into the stream bed to bring up mud, drain it, and then admire and notate what critters they find. This includes crayfish and Mayfly larva and itty-bitty freshwater clams.

Last year I mentioned Hellgrammites which are exceedingly homely but then there is this: It is possible that Hellgrammite mandibles have been selected as secondary sex characteristics used by females to evaluate males during courtship. Males cannot use these mandibles to bite because they are too long. Males of many Hellgrammite species will also produce "nuptial gifts" in the form of packages of nutrient-rich spermatophores that are eaten by the female partner after mating. This has been shown to be correlated to mandible size; in species where the males have large mandibles the "nuptial gift" is small or absent, while it is large in species where males lack the exaggerated mandibles. If you are not chuckling I have failed. As most people seeking the love of a male of their species already know, pretty often less “gifted” guys try harder.

Last summer Len and Tom found this small and rather rare freshwater lamprey, which is an eel-like jawless fish. Most local fish can generally tolerate it and it is not a problem. There is also a sea lamprey, which was introduced to the Great Lakes through ocean ships after the St. Lawrence Seaway was opened. Sea lampreys are a dangerous invasive species that are a threat to native fish. But these freshwater lamprey guys are signs of a good ecosystem and therefore a cool thing to find.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a stream monitor, check out their website. They are associated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and also with UW-Madison Extension. Throughout Wisconsin there are hundreds of volunteers.

Water Action Volunteers https://wateractionvolunteers.org/

If you live in Waukesha County and are interested, there will be a training on May 6th at the Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center. Information about the training is on the events tab of the WAV website. Training is free, but if you want to attend it, call Conservation Specialist Jayne Jenks at 262-896-8305 to pre-register. If you live outside of Waukesha County, the WAV website can help you find a local coordinator and training.  

 

Photos by Len.

 

Comments

I didn’t just chuckle. I laughed out loud.

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What the Dickens?

The photo is from Barnados, a childrens charity in London in the 19th century. 

6/15/2024

Argh! I have a new phone because the old one stopped staying charged plus a few more foibles. My phone cost $400 five years ago so it makes sense that it stopped working reliably, right? If an appliance worked like this we would burn that manufacturer to the ground.

Swan Story

6/3/2024 

I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s writing lately and I have decided there is too much to read. Much of it is very good but there is JUST TOO MUCH!

So my goal going forward is to write shorter posts, more often, that might remind you of the glory, power, and goofiness of your life as well as mine.

So, let me say again what’s always very true. Thank you for reading what I write.

..

About My Memorial Day Story

5/25/2024

Today my story ‘Memorial Day’ is posted at Substack. Read it here. 

Courage, Big & Little

5/22/2024

Courage.

I’m writing fiction this week. I started a story in December that, along the way, turned into a Memorial Day story. It will be my Substack story this Saturday.

This morning I looked for an old newspaper column to rerun and found this one about a time when one of our kids needed to have four teeth pulled.

Cholesterol Numbers & Squirrels

 5/15/2024

Years ago I was out to dinner with friends. We were all just entering our 40’s and thus were all beginning to get the fun medical tests about this and that and cholesterol. I said, to a friend next to me, that I’d started eating oatmeal everyday for breakfast and my cholesterol had dropped …..

The room went silent.

Everyone heard “cholesterol dropped” and stopped speaking. Everyone wanted to hear how much it had dropped – which was about 8 points. In our twenties the conversation stopper was gossip about sex. Now the secret sauce was HDL and LDL

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