What Critter Are You?
Have you ever messed around with one of those silly sites on Facebook? You know; the ones that tell you who your soulmate is and what your friends will do when you die, stuff like that. Yes you have. Don’t lie. You know you can find out all kinds of important stuff on those sites. I fiddled around one not long ago. It was something like what animal are you. I got a tiger or a grizzly bear or something; I don’t really remember. It doesn’t make any difference; but it got me thinking. I do that one occasion actually I’ve been doing it quite often. I started contemplating what organism out there in the real world is closest to my feelings.
I came up with a Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). Now I want you to know right now that we aren’t talking about those flabby, mushy, yellow fleshed things that come off the fish trucks. You know the ones that regurgitate corn or spit out a gob of play dough when you catch them. Nope, definitely not those. I hate those slimy things. I’m talking about real brook trout; the ones that were here before the forests were first ravaged, before numerous streams could no longer support any aquatic life. Yes, the real natives of Appalachia. The hardy survivors. Sadly, not the thrivers. Sometimes all we can do is just hold on.
The species has weathered a lot of turmoil. Just think back to what they have endured over a very short time in the grand scheme of things. Let’s just go back 200 years. Just think about it thousands and thousands of acres devoid of trees so humans could build cities. The trees were all gone; so what shaded the cold waters that they needed to survive? Nothing. But, they managed to hold on. Can you imagine what they thought (if fish can think) when dams full of logs were sent downstream to the mills? Imagine the impact to the streambed with millions of board feet of timber crashing downstream. Just think after they made it through that and things calmed down for a little while; the rains came. Yes, nothing on the mountain to hold anything back. Imagine the sediment clogging your gills for days and days. But, still some survived. Many did not.
They had to leave the larger waters and head into smaller, cooler tributaries when the larger, now scoured streams became too warm for survival. They could no longer grow to their normal size since they were now isolated in smaller, less fertile waters. The food was no longer available in these nearly sterile environments. It was now just a struggle to be lucky enough for a morsel of food to drift by. But, they managed to hold on. Then the orange water comes isolating them even more. They move farther and farther up the tributaries just to survive; often confined to just several hundred yards of stream. They have no choice and there is no way out. There’s nowhere for them to go.
Yes, I can definitely relate to the poor old Brook Trout.; except for the lack of food situation. I can always produce food unlike them. But, here we both are; making the best out of a bad situation and holding on. For how long? Who knows?
This is my April 2017 article for Two-Lane Livin (c)2017 High Virginia Outdoors ALL RIGHTS RESERVED