By Jenny Kalahar
Colleges offer a wide variety of unusual courses today, from Tree Climbing 101 to Pet Fashion Design; from Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse to Elvish Language Studies.
Here’s one course that says right up front that it is certainly not full of truthiness, but maybe that’s why it has become so popular with animal-loving university students.
Natural Science Lessons for the Gullible
The friendly narwhal is one of the ocean’s great Arctic pollinators
and the planet’s greatest grass-farming mammal.
The male wields his long, pointy, helical tusk to untangle
gently-swaying shoreline reeds
Offering each blade a greater share of sunlight.
Narwhals learned this habit by observing the curious actions
of another single-spiked mammalian: the land-dwelling unicorn
Delicate, doe-eyed, white-maned unicorns are known to suffer leg ailments
and so, as a remedy, they find conglomerations of chlorophyta at water’s edge
where they use their spiraling horn to swirl the more potent pods to the surface.
And, after wading the shallow water softly, they climb to shore
glistening algae clinging to their pale, slender legs
forming what appears to be
bright green knee-high socks:
A compress of healing agents
that will reduce swelling and ease charley horses as the algae dries.
Paintings and photographs rarely depict sock-wearing unicorns
as they are very shy during convalescence
Also shy is the delicate nursery pig, an exceedingly rare creature.
Pink in color, they appear nearly translucent when winter chills
and prefer to stay warm indoors, beside the baby.
They can be consistently relied upon to safeguard
even the most onerous infant or toddler
when human parents need time for shopping, bathing, or for country dances.
nursery pigs will stand erect and emit a high-pitched squeal
that can be heard for miles, through thick forest or downstream:
An echoing trill that mimics the raspio saucer-plated marsh beetle—
another of Mother Nature’s wondrous alarmists
And, speaking of mimics
if you have ever been hiking in the rugged Appalachian Mountains
particularly in the northernmost region where the moist soil is the blackest
you may have witnessed the spectacular goldencrisp bird in flight.
They are native to England, but shortly after World War II
large groupings immigrated to the eastern United States
secretly stowing away on hulking military and passenger ships.
There they were not welcome
as they had learned the distinct call of British fish-n-chip street vendors
and, as there were no fish-n-chip vendors on board
this soon made everyone quite unhappy!
Turning our attention now to another unhappy beast
the blue-skinned moaning lilygator
is unquestionably nature’s saddest crocodilian.
He is distinct from other Lilygators in that he moans.
Scientific research conducted at the Institute of Serious Scientific Research
has not definitively proven just what makes him moan
but he regularly turns perfectly good freshly-caught crustaceans
into inedible mush by his constant over-tenderizing and fussing
by adding too much spice of one variety or another
or by boiling them too long over a camp stove
This concludes our brief look at some of the world’s little-known
and little-understood wildlife.
As you leave, please help yourselves to a brochure
on the brown-spotted slipper mouse.
And do take home a baggy
of tasty deep-fried raspio saucer-plated marsh beetles with our compliments.
Drive safely and do please have a good night!
Jenny Kalahar, her husband Patrick, and their pets live in Indiana where she sells used and rare books and writes novels and poetry. Her two novels about fostering cats are Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats, and The Find of a Lifetime: Another Tale of Used Books and Cats. Her collection of nostalgic and humorous poetry is One Mile North of Normal and Other Poems. For more, visit her blog, Bookselling and Writing with Weegee.
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