Thursday, November 12, 2009

More lampreys.

Seriously, the headache won't let up. I think I've had it for a week now. This happens every so often, the headache that won't let up. At first I think it's a side effect of my nightly three-beer regimen, or a lack of fluids after a long run, or perhaps the combination of those dehydrating elements and a long work day without Gatorade. But then the headache lasts through a beer-less, work-less, sitting spell, through the weekend and into the following Wednesday, and I just write it up as a head cold or a sinus infection, or, lampreys.

Interesting creature, the lamprey. After using its sucker to latch on to an unsuspecting trout or cod, it rasps away the skin and scales with its toothy mandible, and then secrets a strange, unnerving anti-coagulant so that the fish will bleed slowly into its lamprey gullet. Disgusting. It has no paired fins, no swim bladder, one nostril on the top of its head, and is not classified as a true fish. One suspects God must have created the lamprey by mistake, or as a despaired first draft of the more sleek and slightly less ignoble eel.

In Europe the lamprey is a delicacy and is overfished. Google "lamprey recipes" and you get lamprey pie, lamprey jelly, and that lipsmacking favorite, "Portuguese Lamprey Rice." King Henry I of England is said to have died from eating "a surfeit of lampreys" which makes one wonder if it was the lampreys that got him, or the mere surfeit. In North America we don't eat lampreys, so, of course, the invasive species has taken over the Great Lakes. It's a real problem, since the dumb lamprey has no natural predators. Our best scientists are working on ways to sterilize the male lampreys to control the population. Your tax dollars are at work on the lamprey problem. Why there isn't money to be made on lamprey exports is proof that European lamprey pie really isn't that good.

For thousands of years, the Niagara Falls protected America from the lamprey invasion. The Niagara Falls! But then we built that canal around it and doomed ourselves. Slowly we are taking the Great Lakes back, just as slowly am I taking back my brain. Today I switch from shovels to sledgehammers, a step up in tool complexity. Who knows. By Saturday I may be using a pencil.