Ken scans the horizon for bears
So my new bear monitor, Ken, is fantastic. Super-nice fellow, and (pleasant surprise) super-keen on the work! I wish I’d had a camera handy yesterday while I was servicing pitfall and pan traps…he was running across the valley, a cigarette in one hand and my aerial net in the other, tracking down a butterfly! He lost it, but still…it was worth the lost specimen just to watch him at work!
When it was safe to do so, he would crouch down on the ground with me as I collected my specimens, commenting on species he knew, and those he’d never seen before. I asked him about how insects were perceived by locals here. He pointed at some small, plain, dark Carabids (ground beetles) floating on the surface of the preservative in a yellow pan trap and said, “Those beetles…the locals are afraid of them.”
Afraid? Whatever for?
An elder was out camping on the land. A small beetle was under his bedroll, and eventually freed itself from the weight of the person above…it crawled over the man’s sleeping bag, and…HORRORS!…right into the elder’s ear! And what did it do once it was there? CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH! It started to chew away at the elder’s eardrum! Sick and disoriented (and hearing CRUNCHes), and occasionally passing out, no one could figure out what was wrong with him. Finally, someone poured some water into his ear, and out floated the little beetley culprit.
Now, you tell me, is that not a story about earwigs? I don’t know if it’s true or if it’s a well-spread urban legend here, but it was a wonderful story to hear!
After we finished collecting at one of my sites, Ken thoughtfully led me just a little further south to show me a new view of the river:
Coppermine River, looking down towards Bloody Falls
Wow. Deep, plunging sandy cliffs; the only thing keeping them from slipping into the river was the tiny bit of vegetation and the permafrost beneath the soft surface. Ice several feet thick still rests on the northern shore.
Every time I think I’ve seen the most spectacular view here, I find an even more spectacular view. This place is just so darned beautiful.