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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of four. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A delectable though minute haunch

"The light was fading, and she was roasting a woodrat for her evening meal. She gave me one of the minute hindquarters, and I never tasted anything so delicious."

The quote is from Carobeth Laird's biographical "Encounter with an Angry God", about a field trip to the headwaters of the Tule River in the southern Sierra Nevada.

The year was 1917, and Laird was assisting her husband John Peabody Harrington record the dying languages of the California Indians.

Harrington was driven, obsessive, and eccentric.

He didn't want WWI to interrupt his life's work, so pleaded with his young wife to back the model T over his leg so he could avoid the draft.

That saying that no man on his deathbed regrets that he didn't spend more time at work didn't apply to Harrington.

When he died in 1961 his professional estate of field notes, recordings, artifacts, some mummified birds, old shirts, and half-eaten sandwiches weighed in at 6 tons.


Anonymous said...

Wow! I learn so much from you! Enthralled by the news article about Harrington and just ordered Carobeth Laird's book.... Thank you for enriching my experience on this earth. So much to learn!

JoEllen Arnold

Mr. Smiley said...

Now I'm wondering what we might be eating on our trip!

Bonnie K said...

Very interesting. He must have been pretty dedicated to let his wife back over his leg. She must have been pretty dedicated to him, because I'm sure he reminded her often of "remember that time you broke my let?"

Camera Trap Codger said...

B,B,B & B: Actually, she refused to do it, I guess she just didn't love him that much.

And Mr Smiley, how does pocket gopher currie sound?

Mr. Smiley said...

What a dinner could be cooked up in Australia this year. See this: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/17/3247081.htm