Saturday, October 30, 2010
We had a zoo field trip today, and it was so deeply pleasing to be just one Hermione Granger in a crowd of Hermione Grangers, each person endeavoring to use vocabulary that we've all learned together in this course, not to show off but out of a sheer delight at knowing the words and concepts, all of us subject to a kind of Geeky Tourette's, high-fiving each other for using vibrissae or folivore or precocial in context.
Our official field trip ended at 2:07pm right in front of the sign for the Aye-aye exhibit in the primate center They lead small groups into this exhibit at 15-minute increments. Even though we were done for the day, 9 or so of us decided to wait the eight minutes for the next tour, and check out these weird nocturnal lemurs, one of which is named Dobby, naturally, because of its resemblance to the house-elf in Harry Potter.
It's pitch dark in the Aye-aye exhibit, so first you sit on a bench to let your eyes adjust, while Ariel, the docent, provides some facts about the animals. As your eyes adjust, suddenly you see movement. Then you can get up and approach the glass and take in the gigantic ears and long digits of these funny little creatures. As Ariel was talking about their many adaptations, and in particular their night vision, I, afflicted with above-mentioned Tourette's, couldn't help but whisper tapetem lucidum (shiny reflective layer in the eye of nocturnal mammals, which we lack). Instantly, 5 or 6 voices echoed tapetem lucidum in a whisper, like an incantation.
In that moment, I did feel deeply under a spell, just so absolutely delighted to be in that particular place in that particular company, one in a diverse but matching set of passionate enthusiasts in love with the natural world. So sweet!