Sunday, October 02, 2005

Tramopaline! Trambopaline!

Driving along Route 43 between South Haven and Kalamazoo, it was a beautiful, sunny day...we were tootling along at a steady clip, when I suddenly swerved and cut across two lanes of traffic.

"Hamachery," I yelled. "Filmashery!"

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Alexis was worried (and rifling around for the Chlorpromazine darts.)

"Right there! Hish Flachery! Fry, fry!"

And with that, we screeched to a halt in the parking lot of the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery. I was so excited I forgot to unbuckle my seatbelt and was snapped forcefully back into place as I tried to get to the hatching ponds.

Tours run five times a day on Saturdays, and we had only about 40 minutes to explore before one started up at 2pm. No time to lose! I breathlessly asked the ranger where the tour met, and he looked concerned as I nodded my head enthusiastically at his response. He pressed two tokens into my hand and told me I could feed the fish in the observation pond. "Really?" I blinked up at him.

"Yes, go ahead." He spoke an attempt to calm and reasure.

The observation pond was densely stocked with beautiful speckled Muskies who thrashed and spun when you dropped in the pellets of food. Fishy, fishy, fishy, fish!

At the bottom of the pond, are these dark shapes - Lake Sturgeon. These are probably between 60 and 100-years-old, and the largest fellow here was about 8 feet long.

Oh, and don't be fooled by the pictures above - the pond is actually full of plants and hollows, it's not just a giant cement puddle.


The tour was phenomenal! Ben, the young fellow who'd cautiously given me tokens before, led a group of hysterical-looking Michiganders through the hatching house - filled with long, long cement tanks of fry. He showed us how they collect the eggs - sorry for the blurriness, he was a little squiggley.

First, you grasp the fish in both hands.

Then, you stroke the fish gently.

Faster and faster...

And repeat until you fill the bucket.

Show me on the doll where the conservationist touched you!