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September 14, 2010

USEE's Animal Encounters

Encounter 1

Whether it is facilitating workshops, hosting green bags, or conducting meetings USEE staff have the opportunity to meet very interesting people. Lately, however, our encounters have been of another kind.

Early one morning I was busy tapping away at my computer and enjoying the natural rays of sun pouring in from my office window. I try to take advantage of the daylight, so I never bother to turn on any lights in the office. From room to room hallway to hallway everything else is blanketed in darkness. Only light that shines is in front of me, from the back of my chair on, darkness dominates the office space.
One of my co-workers enters the room. I know this without seeing her because we have a delightful bell that chimes every time someone opens the door to our basement offices. She comments on how dark everything is and switches the light on in the room, then she searches out the switch to turn on in the hallway. Just as light sweeps the white walls, I hear a small startling sound. I don’t know if she is talking to me or herself, but I hear her make an inquiry of a creature that she found along the wall. I leave my desk and enter the hallway to find her staring inquisitively, with her head cocked slightly to one side.

Trying to find whatever it is she is staring at, I scan the walls and then my eyes are met by a leggy, slithery, strange insect. Even though I too experience a bit of the heebie-jeebies, I am none-the-less just as fascinated as my co-worker. Now there were two USEE employees helplessly captivated by this unusual visitor. Recognizing that neither of us has seen this insect among a garden or a trail that we have crossed, we examine the strange skeletal body of the insect and begin to make guesses as to what it might be. Wishing no harm to our uninvited guest; we sweep it into an old hummus container and cut air holes for it to breathe.

Our Executive Director will be in shortly so, we of course do not want to be rude and leave the hummus container on her desk, so that they can be introduced when she arrives. We anxiously wait for our director to approach her desk. Forgetting that she has an extensive background in water quality and plenty of experience dealing with creepy- crawly insects; we realize that she will not experience the same shock-factor as did the both of us. Instead, she picks up the container, laughs, and suggests that we do some research to establish the species of the insect. My co-worker scans the internet for strange, scaly thingy’s. Well, that may have not been her exact “Google” search, but she did find a match to what we had seen.

Scutigera coleoptrata or “house centipede” are what his friends call him. As stated by insect identification. org, this insect is known to popup from tub drains and various other piping’s which, coincidently he was found by an old pipe drain sticking out of the wall. The article mentioned that these insects are good for homes, keeping away insects such as cockroaches and moths, which most people, typically, do not want in the their homes. After learning about our guest, we released him by another drain outside so perhaps, he’ll pay us another unexpected visit one day. To find out more about this leggy centipede visit: http://www.insectidentification.org

Encounter 2

There isn’t much that passes by my office window, not because the location of the building, but because of the location of the window. Being that USEE operates in offices located in the basement of a building, my window sits low in the earth, it peers up at the sky and I can see a rich green bush sticking off from the side and another one that creeps low to the ground. The hustle and bustle of the 500 South traffic is up and away from me, so basically I see birds, clouds, and a wooden light pole that leans at about a 45 degree angle towards the street. I make bets with myself that a strong wind one day will take the rest of it down, smashing some poor guy’s car parked on the side of the street. Just as I was about to go cross-eyed from staring at my computer a soft-stepping, fluffy object catches my eye.

I look up and there was a black and white cat stepping over the bushes and steering intently at me. I glance up at him and he creeps closer and closer to the glass of the window. Finally, I shout out to my co-worker about the strange cat standing in my window sill. We both jump from our chairs and exit the offices to see if we can steal a closer look. We trudge through the bushes and slowly, as we curve around the plants, the cat freezes, looks up at us, and then rushes to the safety of the bushes. I wasn’t sure if he felt safer with the glass in between us, as it seemed before that the cat was genuinely interested in whom I was, or perhaps it was just a glimpse of his own reflection he was staring at. He waits only a moment and then sheepishly trots by us. We both get to pet his soft fur for a quick moment and then as though he had somewhere pressing to be, he follows the grass onto the side walk and takes off westward.

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