Spring is in the Air

What's this naturalist, photographer, and biologist to do when he's not hiking a trail or chasing the light? The answer I'm about to offer is likely to surprise you all... he's planning the high school prom. The life I live is a veritable hall of mirrors defined by both paradox and coincidence. I happen to be a one-time field ecologist who now finds both security and passion in educating future doctors, researchers, environmental activists, and citizens. The work that fulfills me each day, is fraught with a strange irony. I loathe opulence, and am likely to be one of the few who has ignored the royal display of wealth plaguing the media landscape throughout the week. Yet, here I am the co-coordinator of the most opulent event sponsored by my employer each year. Call me the prom guy, charged with organizing a self-indulgent event for the massess. 

The Gift
Canon 7D + 300 f2.8 IS @ f2.8

But here's the rub... in some strange and perverse way, I kind of like the job. I have the opportunity to work with students who want to celebrate their youth and their lives. The prom marks a great transition from winter to spring and foreshadows a future that will be filled with excitement, celebration, and disappointment. 
Proud Drake
Canon 7D + 300 f2.8IS @ f3.2

Surprisingly, this frivolous event in which boys become gentlemen and girls become ladies has its parallels in the science of biology. I often remind my students that life has one simple goal; we have evolved to perpetuate ourselves. The driving force of evolution is reproduction. Through this simple act, we send ourselves into the next generation in the form of a molecule that codes for the very genes that defines our traits. Natural selection reinforces the characteristics that enhance survival and procreation, and acts against traits that inhibit the capacity to reproduce. 
Rough Landing
Canon 7D + 300 f2.8IS @ f3.2

Prom ushers in the spring. It coincides with a regrowth of the barren landscape and the return of nature's pageantry. Evenings are now filled with frog songs and mornings echo a chorus of birds. The energy invested by these crooning males has one simple purpose... sex. Be it the right pitch, cadence, or melody this wasteful opulence and display of pageantry might suggest the right stuff... These males are screaming... "I have survived the winter,"... "I am filled with energy"... "I am the man for your eggs." 
Canon 7D + 300 f2.8IS @ f3.5

Is this what a high school prom is about? While I hope that none of my male students proclaim that they are "the man" for their date's eggs, this biologist can't help but see the parallel between an evening at the prom and the chorus of frogs outside my screen door.
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