2012.05.09 Cats, bugs and crayfish

water beetleBy DAVID GREEN

Did you notice a cat story on the front page a couple of weeks ago? Of course you did. It was the lead article with the top-of-the-fold photograph.

It was the story of Fayette’s town cat, Jeb, and his lackadaisical manner of crossing U.S. 20.

I didn’t have any other good front-page photos for that issue, so Jeb went on the front. Then I waited for the teasing to begin.

I figured a lot of people would give me a hard time about placing a fluffy cat story on the front page, but that wasn’t the case. Jeb’s tale turned out to be one of the most talked-about stories I’ve had in a long time. I’m still hearing comments.

I heard that I should have had more photos from Gary at the Buckboard Bar and Grille because he has one of a sticky plastic spoon adhering to Jeb’s tail.

I had a call from someone at a neighboring paper who was jealous of the Jeb story. She wishes they had a town cat to write about.

And so it went. What I thought was going to be a risky move proved to be good small-town journalism.

At least that’s how it went until I spoke with my daughter, Maddie, in New Zealand last week. She was in an area with internet service and was catching up on recent Observers. 

Her response was simple and direct. In a somewhat disbelieving voice she said: “You put a cat on the front page.”

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In other animal news, John Speelman pedaled to the Observer office Friday morning to present me with a mystery bug in a jar. My guess is that it was an old peanut butter jar.

As far as the insect was concerned, I recognized it as a beetle, but I had never seen such a thing before. It was sleek and enormous—nearly two inches long. 

Peter Fallot stopped in and noticed how it resembled polished wood. The wing coverings fit together so perfectly that it was difficult to discern where they split in half. 

I asked Mr. Google about “big brown beetle” and soon learned it was giant black water beetle. Sleek for moving easily through the water. Hairy filaments on the back of the legs for propulsion through a pond. Perfect design, but the mystery is why it was hanging out in the Speelman yard.

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Animals made the news 20 years ago, too. I’ll fill the remainder of this space with a tale from the past.

Another allergy sucker has bit the gravel in Ben’s aquarium. That’s two down in the span of about two weeks.

The aquarium became a part of our family a couple of Christmases ago. It seems like forever, but I really can’t complain about such quiet, undemanding pets. Give them a few flakes of that stinky food twice a day and they’ll pretty much mind their own business.

Of course there’s an occasional episode of cannibalism, and a monthly incident of dirty fish gravel in the bathtub during cleaning, but overall we’ve all fared together quite well. At least they’re doing better than some in the past. I have foggy memories of trying to scoop up goldfish from the floor many years ago. Once they get loose, it’s hard to bring them back.

I think it was Ben who first thought a particular fish in his aquarium was called an allergy sucker. To prevent embarrassment at school, I told him it was actually called an algae sucker. Rosanna and Maddy still use the original name and it’s too funny to correct them.

I now hear there’s some good news to report. It wasn’t the big-lipped allergy sucker that died. It was something else. Something like a sword-tailed carp sucker.

Animals haven’t fared very well at our house this spring. Ben brought home a crayfish from Lake Hudson but it escaped from its new home and he found it half a block away a couple of days later. It seemed to be suffering from a terminal lack of water.

He refurbished his crawdad home to make it escape-proof and won approval to steal another from the park. We caught one, brought it home and it was gone the next morning. Probably a sea gull took that one. We never found a trace.

  • Front.web
    NICE WORK—A spider remains at the center of a web, awaiting visitors, during a moist morning last month. The was built in front of Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.