ang tao was missing this morning. could he have gone to the lab? i thought. i discovered later he went to go send off his sponsor, who was flying back to china today. outside there was some commotion, as a portion of my street was once again cleared of parked cars, this time for a moving truck (new neighbors). i made myself a ham egg bagel sandwich and decided where i'd go naturing on this perfect summer day. gathering my gear, i left for sudbury around noon.
the assabet river national wildlife refuge was my destination. i went to the newly opened northern entrance, which is very well hidden, with no signage telling you where it is. i parked near the river and walked down a dirt road that i realized later wasn't actually a part of the refuge. getting back on my bike, i went further in, down a deteriorating paved road, and found the main parking lot (no.5). here was an empty wild field, dotted with anthills and yarrows, as well as an intersection with led to different paved access roads. i went down a few paths looking for dragonflies; the ones i saw were similar to the ones i found last week at southern assabet. i watched an ant guard a yarrow against an unsuspecting fly who didn't realize it was trespassing.
i left the northern entrance and returned to the southern end. nothing new with the exception of more amberwings. on a map i noticed there was a pond nearby so i walked down there and back. i spotted a monarch butterfly caterpillar on a milkweed; i almost didn't see it because it was such a neat eater and didn't leave any telltale bit marks. i haven't seen these caterpillars since 2003, and even now it seems slightly early in the season. if i had a jar i would've taken it to raise at home but left it alone instead.
i got a lot of photos of blue dasher dragonflies. the males have a blue abdomen with a yellow thorax striped with black followed by green eyes. the females are just yellow with black striped and brown eyes. immature males also resemble females, but ones i saw were maturing to be adult males so they had brown eyes. although i didn't see it until i saw the photos, but one of the dragonflies had a few parasitic water mites on its body.
further down i was startled by a mango-sized turtle on the edge of the path. this marks the third consecutive time where i've found turtles gone astray. i tried to flip it over with a stick: not for any sadist purposes, but to take a photo of its underside. it actually took several tries, as the turtle would actually brace itself with its legs to prevent flippage, and even squirted out water as a form of defense (at least i think that was water). after i'd thoroughly traumatized our shelled friend, i flipped it on its stomach again. when i returned 20 minutes later it was already gone.
i left assabet around 4:30pm. at the 180 miles mark i could feel the motorcycle decelerating. the thing you have to understand about a motorcycle is that there's no gas gauge. i basically have to keep track of how far i've traveled, and whether or not i have enough gas. when the bike slows done, that's a signal that i need to refuel. there's a dial near the enginee where i can activate the reserve tank, but i don't like riding on reserve (it's probably good for another 50 miles). as soon as i came upon a gas station i filled the tank, 2 gallons worth of gasoline (90mpg, that's not too bad).
an hour later, back at home, ang tao was making dinner. i was horrified to see the stove splattered in oil and the thick smell of grease saturating the interior of the house. he shared what he made with me (stewed beef with rice, but what was he frying?), and while he was serving the food, i was busy wiping the oil from the counter top. i'm a little bit concerned because if he's going to be cooking like this for the next 3 months, by the time i come back the place is going to permanently smell, to put it bluntly, like a chinese restaurant. we ate in the kitchen, around the island. i asked him what he was researching at the astrophysics department, as if i would be able to understand even if he was able to explain it, but apparently it has something to do with galaxies. then we delved into politics, and i asked him what the chinese consensus is about george bush ("we don't like him," was the answer).