display | more...

If the title sounds familiar, you've probably been in a Baptist church or heard one on the radio or TV. These words are a paraphrase of a biblical passage describing (or attempting to describe) hell.

Some memories "dieth not" and writing them down seems to help, somehow. I really didn't set out to torture one of nature's finer specimens but, through incompetence, the end result was precisely that. But I'm getting way ahead of myself.

I had been cooking in the restaurant at the state park lodge for about two years and had decided to try my hand at a different line of work. The open position was a seasonal one but I wanted a change of pace so I applied for it and was hired. The job title was "Park Interpreter", an unfortunate one since one had to repeatedly explain that it didn't involve translating from one language into another. The interpretation, in this case, was that of presenting the unique natural surroundings to park visitors, who were often city dwellers.

The visitor center became my new "kitchen" where I would cook up programs and displays for the entertainment and education (not necessarily in that order) of state park visitors. The good news was, much of the work had been done already. Displays were in place, and programs were often a matter of showing a film or a set of slides that had already been in use for some time.

One of these displays was an insect collection showing "bugs" that were likely to be encountered in the wilderness in which the state park was located. I decided to add a specimen to the existing collection. A luna moth, which is very striking to look at, had caught my eye. I knew that the adult luna moth lives only about one week and doesn't even have a mouth so (obviously) can't eat to survive beyond that. This one still had pretty wings but appeared to be approaching the "end of its week". I would simply hasten the process a bit and then mount it in the display with the other deceased insects.

I lacked both experience and formaldehyde but reasoned that alcohol should do the trick. I immersed the poor creature's head in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes and it stopped moving. I then pierced it's thorax with a push pin and mounted it with the other insects in the display case at the visitor center.

Rock was a retired State Trooper and had taken a part time job in the visitor center. Rock was the guy you would give your money to if you were camping at Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Unless it was Rock's day off and then it would be me. Rock was appropriately named. He could be a little intimidating and he had a temper. Shortly after my first attempt at amateur entomology I showed up and Rock was clearly trying to be diplomatic as he asked, "Is there a reason why that one butterfly is still moving?". I started to explain that the Luna is a moth, not a butterfly but, before I could get to the part about how you can tell the difference, he said, "Well, whatever it is, it's still alive!"

As soon as I could, I removed the hapless moth and killed it again. This time I tried gasoline or kerosene and was sure that it would work. I returned the Luna to the case smelling like accelerant and feeling confident that it would no longer be moving. I mean, the thing was on its last, ummm, legs even before I killed it, right? I came in after my days off and Rock was seething. "Look, I don't give a damn about your butterfly or whatever it is but it's upsetting the guests and that upsets me!". This time there wasn't much left to return to the display (not that I planned to anyway). The insect collection would have to be OK without a luna moth, OK?