Friday, October 7, 2011

How The Nature Geek has Fun

(originally posted May 13, 2011)

For those of you who have wondered; “What does The Nature Geek do for fun?” this post is for you! And if you haven’t wondered what I do for fun, you’re going to find out anyway. When I lived in Florida for eight years, me and Mr. Nature Geek had all sorts of fun as only two Nature Geeks can do. What follows now are two of my favorites.

Lizard Fishing
Ah yes, lizard fishing…one of the first Nature Geek activities I participated in upon moving to Florida. This one was thought up by Mr. Nature Geek, actually. Living in Florida, you are constantly surrounded by little green and brown lizards called anoles. Lizard fishing involves taking some monofilament and attaching a small piece of a black bread tie or thread to one end, twisted just right as to resemble a fly. Throw your lure out onto a warm sidewalk where you have seen anoles basking and slowly reel it in. A lizard will pop out of the grass and pounce on the lure or better yet, come leaping out of the shrubs in a grandiose style that would make little orphan Annie proud. It usually doesn’t take long before the lizard finds out that the bug isn’t real, but not before doing some good thrashing or in one instance, standing on its hind legs and pulling the lure.

A rather displeased brown anole being held by Mr. Nature Geek.  
(Don't worry, we practice catch and release.)

Gar Tipping
Yes, you read that right, gar tipping. In case you don’t know what gar are, they are a long, slender, primitive-looking fish with hard scales and most importantly, large teeth. A favorite activity of Mr. Nature Geek and I was to go night kayaking on the Hillsborough River in Tampa. (If you’re thinking I’m crazy for paddling with nocturnal alligators, keep in mind that in a 9.5 foot kayak, you look pretty threatening to an alligator) At points in the river, the water gets pretty shallow in the dry season, less than a foot deep. Gar will rest in these areas, though I’m not sure if they are sleeping or just resting…they never did close their eyes. Mr. Nature Geek and I found that if you took your paddle and ever so lightly lift up on the belly of a “resting” gar, they will swim off like a bolt of lightning. Shortly after inventing the sport of gar tipping, Mr. Nature Geek took it to a whole new level. He went to gently awaken a gar and instead of shooting through the water, the fish came right up out of it and onto his lap. How the man managed to not fall out of his kayak as he was yelling and doing the I-have-a-fangly-fish-in-my-lap-get-it-off!-get-it-off! dance, I will never know. All I know is that somehow the gar wound up back in the water and I wound up with a story I will be telling for years to come. Strange how Mr. Nature Geek refused to do anymore gar tipping after that incident.

Well for those of you who were wondering what I do for fun, there you have two prime examples of entertainment ala Nature Geek. I haven’t found a good equivalent to these sports since moving to Pennsylvania, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before an opportunity presents itself. Chipmunk tipping?

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