Sunday, October 21, 2012

Trout Field Trips for Children

 The following blog is from Ed Northen.

 Trout Unlimited already has a program in place called Trout in the Classroom. The program is a new one. It is done all one the country and is quite successful.  That program allows children in a classroom to raise trout from eggs and watch them develop.  They then learn about the habitat, food sources and anatomy of trout and after they are grown release the trout into a local river. It is a good program and well established, the only down side of it is, it all done using trout raised in a  hatchery, not wild trout and their is a significant difference if you were ever to go fish for trout.  The difference can be compared to if you were to go hunting for Elk or for cows.  

The program we are doing is a pilot program and is focused on many of the same things.  We have a classroom take a field trip to the river and then we will catch fish by either electroshocking the water, which stuns the fish momentarily and allows us to net a few or flies with barbless hooks and catch the fish.  They go into a live well and then have a transmitter placed in them by a professional  trained to do this.  The kids release the trout back into the water and then will use a computer program to track the habits of the Trout.  While on the river the Kids will also have the opportunity about healthy trout habitat and some of the insects [entomology] which Trout use for food.  During the year volunteers will go into the classroom and be a guest teacher on any number of subjects related to wild trout and their habitats, plus do something fun like have  the kids tie a fly, cast fly rod, learn a knot used in fishing, etc.  They will also discuss the movement of the trout and it reinforces the need for healthy habitat and ecosystems as the children see how the fish move and where they live as the water levels change in the course of the year.  

Yesterday, unfortunately we had to cancel the field trip and have rescheduled for Oct 30th.  The rain was pouring down and we had winds up to 45 mph.  We had a lot of trees come down in the land trust near our house and our friends had a tree fall and crush their fence and intruding the yard of the people who live behind them. So today  am going to go with a chain saw and help him cut up the tree and repair the fence, the tree is probably 40 - 50 feet tall.   Then this afternoon at 4:30 we will go with our Trout Unlimited Chapter and rescue some more of the trout who get trapped in the canals, they shut of another canal yesterday.  I suspect that we will get another  4,000 - 5,000  wild trout.   

(Ed is the president of the Hemingway chapter of Trout Unlimited. You can see his newsletter at

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Navy Beans

I’m cutting the last of the ham off the bone, laying aside slices that I’ll wrap up and freeze for sandwiches or scalloped potatoes, but I know what I’m going to do with the bone.  I‘ve left some of the fat and gristle on it and a few bits of meat in hard-to-get-to places where the bone curves it. It is going for Navy beans.  There are some things you can’t let go of despite flow of time and fashion and, for me, one is my mother’s admonition never to waste anything. 
Growing up, Fridays were tuna casserole or oyster stew, Sunday (if we were lucky) could be fried chicken with mashed potatoes and Tuesday might be meatloaf, but somewhere in the week there was sure to be Navy beans.  When I’m done cleaning up the cutting board, I’ll get out a large pot and dump the beans in to soak them overnight.  I could take the easy way out and use canned beans but it makes a lot more this way and I like to have the leftovers. I’ll add plenty of salt and pepper and a bay leaf, as my mother did.  One thing I won’t do like my mother is to add onions.  As an adult, I use onions regularly in all kinds of cooking, but as a child, they were one of the few things that completely destroyed the taste of a meal for me.
Of course, I ate them anyway.  One of the rules of our family was that you never left anything on your plate.  If you didn’t want seconds, fine - with seven children around the table there was always someone willing to eat what you didn’t like - but you didn’t waste.  We’d say our prayer before meals and Mom would dish us all out a big bowl of  Navy beans, usually with cornbread.  The syrup that we poured on the cornbread was made with something called Maplene that I think disappeared with the sixties. She’d heat up sugar on the stove with some water in it and then pour in the Maplene until it thickened enough to become a thin syrup.
After dinner, whoever’s turn it was to do the dishes would always clear up the table. Two of us each night, one to wash and one to dry.  I always preferred washing.  If Mom were helping with cleaning up in the kitchen, we’d sing together as we washed. Whether she was cooking or cleaning, my mother always sang as she worked. She sang in the car with all us packed in the back of a Rambler station wagon before all of the seatbelt laws.  Before seatbelts. 
A little over a year ago when my mother could no longer walk or dress herself without help and was living in a group home,  my brother Ed flew out from Idaho, my sister Judi from Tennessee, and me from New Jersey to celebrate her ninetieth birthday with her. One afternoon, we took her to Red Lobster - my mother’s idea of a five star restaurant - and she ordered a huge meal.  As she finished the last bite, my brother Ed laughed and said, “And she’s going to eat every last one of those depression era beans.”
I’m humming to myself as I fill the sink with water and wash off the cutting board and knives.   My mother died two days after Christmas.  Despite her best efforts, my faith has gone the way of fish on Friday, scapulas and stations of the cross.  But I don’t need a heaven to justify her life.  I have the memories of childhood.  I have the feeling of the song that rises from the warm dishwater.  I have the Navy beans. That is enough.