October 27, 2018
Do you have a seemingly silly, not-so-silly fear?
Two of mine are getting caught in quicksand, and predatory, giant white worms or snakes.
I was in first grade in southeast Minnesota, walking home across a huge empty field. Broad daylight.
Snow on the ground ahead of me was undulating. The undulation turned out to be a white snake, about three feet long. I wasn't much taller than three feet, and she seemed enormous. She was coming right at me. I ran around her, and ran home to tell my very skeptical mom, who chided me that there were NO snow-colored snakes.
My uncle the scientist later heard my unbelievable tale. He said I had probably seen a female albino American eel. Eels CAN travel over land, and do so to spawn.
So there, Mom!
In 1988, Ken Russell put out a flick called Lair of the White Worm.
I like scary movies. I've skipped this one.
I saw some Western in my pre-school years, which featured the hero being stuck in quicksand. I THINK I saw a Lassie or Rin Tin Tin episode which featured the dog pulling its favorite little boy out of one. Being no fool, I thereafter walked around any sand that had water sitting on top of it.
Then one day, in my 30s, I heard a pre-teen girl screaming for help. She was sinking in a small pool of you-know-what, very near the edge of a river. The pool was SO small that I was able to grab her around the waist and wrench her out. I'm still not very tall. In fact, she was about four inches taller.
I did it in a maneuver that required merely a hard twist at the waist. (In those days, I HAD a waist.) Mostly to calm her down, I said we HAD to get to the park ranger RIGHT AWAY and get the pool fenced off and get a big warning sign erected. As we scrambled up the bank, I STEPPED ON the warning sign... wedged face-down in the mud among a tangle of big tree roots.
We ran into a ranger well before we got to the ranger shack. He gave us a brief lesson on why quicksand does not actually occur in “pools”...but in “fens”. And the difference between marshes, fens, swamps, and bogs.
In case you ever need this for the SAT or something (“I'll take 'Bogs' for $50, please, Alex,”) I've summarized it for you at the end of this blog.
There's also a link showing a photo of a white eel.
I'm still scared of quicksand.
On the other hand, one summer night my siblings and I were watching a vampire movie in the dark, and the Siberian husky went ballistic about something trying to get in the house. In her frenzy, she pushed the front screen door partway open, which ADMITTED the threatening critter.
The bluish TV light hit the critter's wings. It was about 24 inches from wing tip to wing tip. It was similar to a dragonfly. I screamed, “It's a pterodactyl!” as it collided with the snapping husky and dive-bombed behind the couch.
You could hear it fluttering. Something LARGE and WINGED and FRANTIC.
My stronger brother grabbing the husky and pulling her to the kitchen to confine her...my other brother and sister yelling “What, What?” and me yelling, “Some kind of humungous bug! A pterodactyl! Behind the couch! We need a big grocery bag and...and a net!”
(A net? Why would we have a net?)
[I heard a local comedienne give a hilarious talk on a similar situation she encountered. She and her gay partner had a wild bat fly into their living room. They agreed that it was “The Man's” job to eject wildlife...and they'd never decided which of them was “the man”. Agreeing on this took a lot longer than catching and releasing the bat.]
Anyway, it turns out that giant bugs are the responsibility of whoever saw them first. The he-who-smelt-it-dealt-it rule.
No people or wildlife were hurt in this story. Somebody handed me a badminton racquet and I herded Rodan into the bag and carted him out.
I'm not afraid of giant bugs.
Marshes are wetlands that don't dry out.... and can support reeds and grasses.
Swamps can support woody plants and trees.
Bogs have poor soil and high peat content.
Fens have less... or no ..peat... and have more plant life-- sometimes even having trees-- than a bog.
There'll be a quiz on this, next period.