Monday, April 25, 2011

Expedition Day Two: Fish Tales

At breakfast Wednesday, Mrs. Smith asks Holt if he slept well. Actually, he stayed up until 3 am writing notes and working on his teaching script, "even though Kevin went on to bed". I joke with Julie that I heard Kevin saying the very opposite. Turns out there was a great deal more to the story.

Before we'd left our hotel room that morning, I heard a ruckus outside. Will and Joel were knocking on room 522 next door, to wake Mr Ostrowidzki (from here on out we'll call him Joe). Great plan, except Joe was in room 722. Luckily, no serial killer answered 522's door.

Mr. D had four of us chap men set up the girls changing tent next to the restroom, leaving Joe to carry beach supplies by himself. As we walked off, we told him we'd be back after a round of golf. Needing duct tape to secure the tent, I asked the nearest Servant Leader if she knew anyone near who had some. Someone like Chase, Chandler, or Mallory. Instead Amber replied "I have some." When I told her I was not at all impressed, she added "I've got Zip Ties too!

The Seining was very muddy, and early on quite cold. Joel, Holt, and I were told our screaming scared away the fish. We laughed so hard we could hardly hold the net. The mud was up to our knees! Later we resorted to fish calls to attract specimens: dolphin, whale, and gull were the most popular. Later Will, Holt, Joel, Caleb, and other guys caught the largest flounder Mrs. D had ever seen. That evening Mrs. D taught on flounders, and told the difference between summer and winter flounder. I listened, and learned. At 51, you never know when that kind of info will prove handy. Thankfully Mary dozens of wonderful pictures with Ceil's camera, including one of Kassie showing a shrimp to an inquisitive 6th grader.

Though all the action was at the water's edge, Matthew languished on a towel near the boardwalk, uncharacteristically under the weather. He must've caught a bug, for I knew he'd much rather be in the middle of all the kids. He hadn't eaten much during the exciting first day, and by Wednesday he felt so poorly that I could only get him to nibble. Fortunately the chap moms gave him a large dose of mothering. At lunch he went back for a second sandwich, and I knew he was on the rebound.

The chore of returning the caught fish to the sea was taken seriously by Elizabeth. Concerned they wouldn't survive the extended time out of the water, she looked for signs of life when she placed them back in the ocean. Early on one fish just floated. In disgust, Elizabeth flung it further out in the Joel, Holt, and Caleb watched. "Fish killer!" they cried. "It was already dead!" she exclaimed. "Because you gave it a heart attack throwing it into the ocean!" exclaimed Joel. For the rest of the day Elizabeth made it her mission to gently place each fish, crab, ray, and squid back in the surf. She even learned to protect the air-filled, floating baby squid from gulls until they refilled with water.

When Joel accidentally pulled the arms off a crab, Holt wouldn't let him forget. Then on the very next sein the same crab was caught, and Holt continued his diatribe. Later we set the record for most people holding the net on one sein: eleven. I was going to sit that one out until we decided to go for the record. Four on the deep end, and seven on the shallow side.

During the after-lunch rotations Joe and I topped off our tanks, and snuck back to the hotel to freshen up. I returned to find Anna on the ground, being attended to by Nurse Ellis. Something in her foot. While we waited for the dinner meat to arrive (late, though not the chuck team's fault) the 8th-graders tossed the football. Anna sprained her finger pretty bad.

We knew the South Dunes Park squirrels were not at all shy, and we tried to keep watch. While organizing things in my car I noticed a squirrel scampering across the parking lot with an entire breakfast pastry in it's clutches. I headed toward the screened-in gazebo, only to have another squirrel slip under the door ahead of me. Once inside, there were TWO squirrels to chase out! Later Will returned from the beach to find a hole had been chewed in his nice North Face backpack. He had to fix it with duct tape.

As Caleb and Will taught during the skit a young boy piped up and asked a question, having not yet learned to keep quiet during the epic drama. With Caleb returning to the stage, Will looked at the chap, pointed to him in recognition, and said "just one minute!" before scurrying off to help Caleb. That Will never went back to answer the question made it all the more funny.

Matthew Leiner was a natural as T-Rex. Most 6'5" guys couldn't pull off wearing a Barney costume, but Matthew was not at all self-conscious. Little Jason also was well outfitted in the lizard costume. I heard big Zach wore Jason's outfit during the second week. Chase played the serious knight very well, though he ALMOST cracked a smile while frozen. Holt biting Kevin's pancake was priceless.

After the skit Mr. D gathered the chaperones for yet another meeting. Alyssa snuck in, needing the easel. As she carried it off I had the perfect chance to squirt her with Kevin's spray bottle. Several chaps snickered. She instinctively lunged the other way, poking Mr. D in the forehead with the easel. This time no chaps laughed.

For the second straight night, the three little guys in my room went right to sleep. Young cartoonist Matthew Flurry hang close to his best buddy Caleb Faulkner, who was on his first trip away from home. Several times I calmed his mother's concerns, and several nights Caleb wound down by relayed every detail of that day's events. His favorite word, by the way, was "sniff!"

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