Does anybody else have scattered papers and notebooks with titles scribbled in them, but no accompanying story? These titles look so forlorn, so homeless, like unmoored dinghies bobbing on choppy literary waters, waiting for a safe plot in which to berth.
A few years back, when I lived in northern California, near the Oregon border, I worked for a few months for the US Fish and Wildlife Agency. I would have stayed there indefinitely, but they only hired people for three months at a time, until their regular assistant came back from a maternity and medical leave.
That was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. Whether because it was summer, and I rode my bicycle there and back home, six miles each way, while listening to my Doris Day CDs, and enjoying the best views and weather and air I’d seldom known before, or because the people were very nice, which they were, and the job was fun, which it was, is all up for debate. I’ve never been able to listen to Doris since, without being immediately transported to green fields, and a majestic mountain, with a shawl of white.
You may not think biologists and their ilk would be very much fun. That would be incorrect. Most of them were a hoot, and they were laid back to boot. Maybe it was because they were mostly wildlife-type biologists, with some water guys thrown in, or because they were government workers and just felt relaxed, I don’t know.
My job was as administrative assistant, which is a fancy way of saying I filed, answered phones, and did other things that no one else wants to do. When my aunt and uncle called there occasionally, I loved addressing them as Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer. One day, I was filing papers and I came across a paper titled, ‘A Finding of No Significant Impact on the Ischi Pishi Road’.
I was thrilled. What a title! Visions of Dr. Seuss’ many characters swam through my mind. A boy, perhaps, has gone for a walk in his neighborhood, and come across a path previously unknown to him. He strays upon it, and meets with all manner of fantastic characters, but when he returns home, he is unable to fully articulate all that he has seen. His mother tells him to ‘hush’ while she gets dinner ready, so he just lets it go, and keeps it close to his heart. Someday, he will tell the story to his children, who will think their dad has an amazing imagination.
Later, when I thought to look up this unusual headline, I discovered that biologists regularly use this phrase to report on something. It didn’t dim the title’s appeal for me, instead I wanted to find the Ischi Pischi Road, for surely I would meet with many fantastic characters, too.
Why biologists feel the need to report on something of no significant impact, I don’t know, but that kind of adds to the mystery.