Trifles Have a Charm of Their Own

Lake Herrick
Photo Credit: Dewayne Neeley

I have a Latin calendar that I usually joke is the oracle. Yesterday’s Latin calendar was “Inest sua gratia parvis” which roughly translates to “Trifles have a charm of their own”. It was very charming when I had to crawl into  50 degree Lake Herrick on a 50 degree day. This all started when I attempted to lasso a fallen student’s test out of the water with a secci disk.

Thursday was the Lake Herrick lab where students go on a field trip to the campus owned lake and collect ecological data including water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and collect planktonic and benthic organisms.

Today was also the day that I decided it would be a good idea to hand back the tests I graded. My students and I were on the bridge collecting data when one of their tests dramatically was picked up by the wind and blown into the water. There was a pause and some silence from everyone as the test floated along the surface of the water. During this time, the floating test caught the attention of the other lab that was out there at the same time. I told my students, “It’s okay, I’ll lasso it with a secci disk!”. Apparently, not one of my better ideas.

A secci disk is a disk attached to a rope that has black and white markings on it. You dunk it into the water and record when you can’t see it anymore to determine turbidity.

In classic cartoon style, I tossed the secci disk into the water aiming for the fallen test. The wind picked up and pushed the test further out.  I had not let out enough rope for the secci disk to allow for this and soon the secci disk and it’s rope were in the middle of the lake. The other lab erupted into laughter.

I’m pretty sure my lab would have too if it wasn’t happening to their TA. I calmly told them, that I had to go get it. I gave one student my phone, another student my jacket, and jumped off the bridge where it met with the shore. I promptly slipped and fell, which caused the other TA’s lab to laugh again.

I went to step out to the lake, where the water was only a few inches deep, and sank up to my knee in mud. The other TA’s lab erupted into uncontrollable giggles.

One of my students told me to throw my sweatshirt to them, so it didn’t get wet. I did … and it ended up in the water too. Tthe other TA’s lab started laughing.

From there, I waded out to the middle of the lake which was waist deep. I grabbed the secci disk and the student test and proceeded to wade back. It took another student to help me get my boots off since they had filled completely with water.

You can clearly see the mud line on my jeans

You can clearly see the mud line on my jeans

I then taught the other hour and a half of lab completely soaked and barefoot.

When I made a snarky comment about the water being cold, one of my students remarked, “We just measured the temperature and it’s 12°C.”  At least they were doing what they were supposed to.

They also claimed that I was “the most metal TA” so I guess I win. Although it was annoying, it was a fun little adventure. The best part was that my comments on the test didn’t get smudged or washed away!


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