Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Shark's Tale: Fishin on Biscayne Bay; Miami, FL

As a kid, I spent every other Thanksgiving with my pops his parents in Miami.  Grandpa had a 27-foot Vega that we would take out into Biscayne Bay and if the wind was good we would hit Stiltsville by lunch and turn back for dinner.  Every once and a while I would get a chance to jump over, cool off in the waves and grab the tiller for the ride back.

These days the boat is sold, Grandpa isn’t getting out on the Bay with Shake-a-Leg as much as he used to, but we’ve gotten Uncle David to get the ole fishing boat out of mothballs.  Sydney caught the fishing bug this summer in Tolland, but the ocean is a whole ‘nother deal.  He and David cast in and two minutes later pulled in a twelve inch black grouper (small by their standards, not Sydney’s).  I pulled up a ten inch porgy, so David filleted it and threw it on his heavy tess line.  Five minutes later that rod bent in half and David shouted “reel her in Sydney.”

Now David is 6’3”, 250 in his skinny jeans and he was straining.  That’s when we noticed the yellow tipped fins off the shoals.  He handed me the rod and that baby started running.  Barracuda?  Scuba diver? The bottom? One flip later and David knew we had a lemon shark and it wasn’t gonna be small.  Thirty minutes of reelin’ while Sydney shuffled off to the far end of the boat to watch and David (and my new brother-in-law) spelling me and we had that six foot, sharp-teethed, beautiful creature parallel to the boat.  We snapped a few shots, David cut the line and within minutes we saw another fin two hundred yards off twice as tall as our new found friend.  Thank goodness I hadn’t brought Sydney’s swimsuit.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Wonders of Nature @ The Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, MA

I worked at camps almost every summer of my young adult life.   One summer though, I decided I should get a REAL job that would build my resume.  I fell into an unpaid internship at Cultural Survival, an amazing non-profit loosely linked to the Harvard Anthropology Department that works to protect indigenous cultures around the globe.  Sometimes at lunch I would wander into the old Peabody museum and the glass flowers collection.  I am sure this somehow led me to my first job in teaching at the Museum School in New York, somehow...

As amazing as the collection was in 1992, it has since been totally renovated into a state-of-the-art, world class exhibit space.  We have gotten lost a few times with the boys in the endless Hall of Mammals.  And while many of the specimens are starting to crack a bit, it is no less impressive to look up at a whale skeleton here than it is to peer upon the blue whale at our fav the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. 

After a quick swing through the glass flowers and Minerals, Gems and Meteorites I rediscovered my roots.  There in the back corner was a hallway connector to the Peabody.  Three floors of amazing ethnographic discoveries just waiting for kids.  I couldn't recall back 18 years to whether those twenty foot murals from ancient Central America in Encounters with the Americas had stolen the show.  And as a big fan of Mexican culture, we were engrossed in the Dia de los Muertos exhibit (it didn't hurt that Halloween and hence Dia had just passed.)  Yet, we barely skimmed the surface and we will need another return trip.  I thought I was running out of Beantown Dadventures, it looks like I can book one at least.