Some may be surprised to learn that my friend Midge still shares a bedroom with me. Oh, there was a period of time when our lives were separated, but a few years ago my sister decided that Midge and I need to reconnect and so she made that happen.
My childhood pal, who was also Barbie’s best friend (I never had a Barbie doll–just saying), found her way north. To ward off the cool spring temps, she dons a skirt and headband my mom knitted for her, but I now realize as I gaze upon her disheveled attire how alike we still are. One shoe on, one shoe off. Mussy hair. And that face.
So yeah, I don’t really play with dolls anymore, but I do like having my old friend nearby–maybe because she reminds me of a childhood well spent with family and neighbors. It was one that included playing with dolls and playing outside. And that outdoor play and discovery is still a huge part of my life. Thus it was that this afternoon found me heading to the vernal pool out back and noticing an insect pupating on a pine I often pass by. What is it? I don’t know. When did it find this spot upon which to attach? I don’t know. I swear, I walk by this spot every few days and it had not made itself known previously. But look at the structure. WOW.
I finally left it behind and journeyed on to the vernal pool that I wish could be listed as significant for this year it supports way more than 40 wood frog masses and certainly more than 20 spotted salamander egg masses. Either of those would deem it important, but . . . it appears to have been created to support the farm life of old, rather than being a natural pool. Still, to me it will always be significant for its taught me so much over the years.
You might laugh to see that I get excited about any form of life within the pool including the mosquito larvae.
They really are everywhere within the water column.
But even more importantly, my babies were swimming . . .
and feeding, including on the green algae that served a symbiotic relationship with their egg masses. If you look closely at this photo, you may notice other lives worth acknowledging.
Meanwhile, the spotted salamander embryos were developing at their own rate of life.
And then I began to look at another: the larval form of a Chironomid Midge. To get a sense of its size, notice the tiny birch seed floating on the water’s surface.
Like the mosquitoes in their larval form, the midges are also contortionists who wriggle and wraggle through the water column.
And then they morph into flying insects.
Although from what I noticed today, there wasn’t much flying taking place. Instead it seemed like the oak leaf that floated on the pool’s surface served as a place for males and females to get to know each other, much like my friend Midge may have met her boyfriend, Alan.
To better understand the size of the midges, note the half inch length of the hemlock needle I drew a line around.
Life at the Oak Leaf Bar got a little more interesting when Alan’s friend stepped onto the scene.
First she was going after Alan 1 and then it seemed that Alan 2 pursued her, while her little sister, Skipper, showed up as an even smaller fly species.
At last, Midge made a choice.
And the canoodling began.
But at the Beech Leaf Bar two other Midges toyed with another Alan.
And tada–more canoodling.
And then at Oak Leaf Bar Too, even more drama played out.
He inquired about her well being and seemed to find it quite healthy.
At last they pulled apart, much to the liking of their nearby friends.
It seemed after that meeting that all the Alans convened.
Each postured and claimed a somewhat dominate position.
And then two of the four Alans turned on one.
And the sibling rivalry began.
Bodies crossed and legs interacted.
Two duked it out while the other two moved on.
In the end, each went its own way, but I suspect that after I moved on they met again. And again.
In the same way I again met my friend Midge. And again realized our similarities including the shared name of our guys despite their different spellings.
Midge, along with Skipper, a doll I also had but seemed to have lost, was apparently created to counteract criticism that claimed Barbie was a sex symbol. After watching today’s midges, I have to wonder . . . I’ve never met a canoodling Barbie in the insect world. Just maybe the Midges I have known aren’t second fiddle after all.