Friday, June 10, 2016

Socks and Mayflies


Woke up thinking about the Mayfly today. That’s a sure sign that summer vacation has truly begun. All the class plans and to-do lists that us working teachers carry put up a sign saying “Gone fishing” and that frees up a lot of real estate in the brain for thoughts like “I wonder how long a mayfly lives?” Or “I wonder who invented socks?”

For anyone wondering how these two trains of thoughts arrived at the station, there was a clear departing point for each. Yesterday, my to-do list changed from “craft a ceremony honoring your wife’s 42 years of service, complete with writing and sharing a poem, playing a meaningful piano piece, leading a song and dance for all 50 teachers” to:

1) Buy a toothbrush.
2) Get new playing cards 
3) Purchase new socks.

All of which I can proudly say I accomplished.

So I tried on my new socks this morning and wondered who invented them and when and how they developed to their current state. Still more research to do—I’ll get back to you.

As for the Mayfly, I’m thinking about trying to dive back into finishing a book I wrote three Junes ago. I have seven free days until leaving for Ghana, enough time to kickstart that project and then continue it on long plane rides and leisure time in Africa. It has been frustrating to fill up my dance card with so much that I never make time to get my 9th—and 10th and 11th and more—book that is written in my head (and some on paper) out to the reading public. I’ve managed to keep up the discipline of writing these blogs just fine, but —and here comes the Mayfly—that all is bug-size and ephemeral writing compared to the elephantine accomplishment of a full-blown book nestled between two covers with themes that develop and stick to the ribs.  I just want a larger bite of immortality than these mere Mayfly blogs.

As for this fascinating insect, apparently the shortest-lived Mayfly (Dolania Americana) lives for exactly 5 minutes. 5 minutes. (And most other Mayfly species for 24 hours.) Doesn’t even have a digestive track because there’s not much time to eat, never mind digest. Naturally, mating is high on the agenda and I imagine there’s very little flirting at the Mayfly bar, no word for “foreplay” in the Mayfly dictionary. No time for banter, just get down to business. And if their life flashes before their eyes at their death, that’s a pretty short movie indeed.

Does the Mayfly mind? Perhaps the relation of their lifespan to ours is similar to our life span to a mountain. Does the rock pity our short, ephemeral time on earth? Does the mountain wonder why we wear socks? If the weather turned colder, would Mayflies consider using 30 seconds of their life to put on socks?

These the kind of thoughts I will ponder this summer. Happy June!

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