Wednesday, November 27, 2013

More Mommy than Science Teacher

Last Thursday, Jedi Knight and Plantboy went on a school field trip to watch the salmon spawn. They enjoyed their trip so much (and the sun finally came out) that on Saturday we did a repeat with the family. We got to hike a little, and Plantboy gave me an early Christmas present in the form of a very cool coat I've had my eye on for some months.

They really do die after they spawn. I've heard this so many times before, but until I saw the stream littered with their half decomposing carcasses I just didn't really believe it, you know. My mind for all things evolution was spinning like crazy during our trip.

I had two distinct impression in this regard on Saturday. The first is that it is a cruel thing that makes these fish starve and fight their way upstream for months in their old age, only to pass on what they can to the next generation and die. It is easier for me to put my faith in an evolutionary system than to believe that my benevolent Father in Heaven designed a system so cruel. My second impression was a bit more sacrilege. It was that when the God of the Universe observed the way the salmon were evolving He said something like, "Well, how odd. Let's just see where these tenacious creatures will go with this."

It is hard to get pictures of them in the water, but much of what they do is just tread against the current and try not to get pushed back. Every several minutes, in a herculean effort of will and muscle and drive, they will jump and splash and push through very shallow water, sometimes gaining as much as ten or twenty feet of river. Only to rest and rest and tread water and try not to get pushed back. No doubt there is a metaphor there for human life too.

These next shots are of a very large female surrounded by 3-4 males. Every few minutes, we would see her white underbelly as she flipped and struggled to dig her nest. Near her, the males kept fighting each other (and the current) in order to prove that they were the fish for the job at hand.

 Here we are hiking and enjoying the sunshine. Don't let that bright ray fool you . . . it probably wasn't even forty degrees! We also passed areas where the sun hadn't hit in a few days and the ground underfoot was white and crunchy and covered with a thousand leaves that will be food for the forest next spring. There are supposed to be some old growth forests near where we were, but I think we went the wrong direction. In the spring we hope to go back and find the really big trees with the rhododendrons and ferns in the understory.

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