Daily Archives: September 24, 2008

Specimen Daze

Doctor T dropped in for a visit this past weekend. Not that Doctor T but this Doctor T. He showed up carrying a butterfly net and specimen bottle. Evidently that’s his MO.

Is that a speciman bottle in your pocket...?

Is that a speciman bottle in your pocket...?

I’ve been looking forward to meeting the handsome Doctor for quite some time now and have been very jealous of all the bloggers that got to meet him when he’d go collecting in their insect laden states. Oregon’s cool, wet weather just doesn’t pull in the bugs, or their admirers, like Arizona or Texas or anywhere in the South. Fortunately for us though, the Oregon Zoo has a butterfly breeding program, and butterflies are Doug’s passion.

I was a little nervous at first as is usual for me when meeting new folks but that all went out the window before we even left the train station. Doug was Doug…the same chap I swap snarky remarks with in the blogosphere, so I knew we’d have a grand time.

Friday night’s conversation was a lot of fun and even though we’d consumed a fair amount of wine, Doug agreed to join us and our neighbors as we walked the dogs in Forest Park the following morning. The weather was rather cool and there weren’t many insects to be found but the good Doctor prodded along, enduring our many questions about local insects. He listened, without rolling his eyes, as we described the black beetles about an inch or two long that often cross our path on these walks. “They’re really common and the wings are kind of dull” and “They look like the other black beetles only shorter”, scientific descriptions that I’m sure had the good Doctor chuckling, on the inside. But Doug continued to smile and talk to us as though we’d all made it beyond the third grade.

About an hour into the hike, in one swift, unexpected move, Doug pulled a specimen jar from his pocket, swooped down on a rotting stump and came up with not one, but two carabid beetles, like some sort of insect-hunting superhero with insectivision. The neighbors were excited that he’d bagged bottled the very beetles we’d been describing and stood gawking at them frantically trying to escape their prison.

I stood wondering, “who carries a specimen bottle in their pocket?” But the answer was obvious, the same one that carries a butterfly net in his luggage.

Saturday afternoon on the Wilson River Doug showed us another of his many talents…he has the quickest net swoop in the country. If butterfly netting were an Olympic sport, Doug would be Michael Phelps. No billowing net flowing above his head as he frolics across a park lawn chasing that elusive Swallowtail. (well…not this trip anyway) Nope. Doug is all business, sidling the net up behind his prey, gently prodding the rocks nearby, and just as his victim launches…SWISH!

The net people, the net…stay with me here.

His net has the headspeed of Tiger Wood’s driver, I’m telling you! I sure wouldn’t want to come face to face with him at the Butterfly Corral…I might end up in a bottle…in a freezer…like the carabid beetles.

But I digress…

Although I know that Doug’s work is also his hobby, spending time with him you get a true feel for the passion and enthusiasm with which he carries out that work. It’s also more than a little contagious; it’s changed the way I “see” when walking the trails or simply passing a shrub. Insects beware!

I also learned that it takes less than two glasses of wine to get his tongue to wag. He spent a good share of Saturday night sharing secrets stories about bloggers he’d met, and I, of course, kept on pouring! Actually, we spent most of that time talking about everything from bloggers to music to relationships to water polo players.

It was the most enjoyable weekend in many, many months. Good company comes easy but great company happens and this was one happening weekend.  I’m truly looking forward to our next visit and hope there are many more to come.  You see…I have this spider in my garage I can’t identify.