Forty years ago biology professor Jim Kenagy set out for Frenchman Coulee near Vantage, Washington, with a group of students to meet the beetles. Not the rock band from Liverpool but a type of desert beetle. And for Kenagy and the students, the weekend spent observing and documenting the behavior and characteristics of the wiggly-legged insects really was a magical mystery tour.
Kenagy is a professor emeritus of biology who spent 40 years teaching at the UW. He’s also a retired curator at the Burke Museum. His specialty is small mammals like the golden-mantled ground squirrel or your garden variety chipmunk.
On the 40th anniversary of the beetle trip Kenagy reached out to some of the students with emails and calls reminding them of their hourly beetle counts, measurements of beetle body temperature and other processes.
“I do have a special fondness for those particular beetles. I even took my grandson who was age seven to Frenchman Coulee to see the beetles,” Kenagy says. “I had hoped for lizards and I had promised him a rattlesnake. It was cold but the beetles were out and about and he did find two scorpions. It was great to re-immerse myself in beetles.”
Kenagy is finding a second career in retirement. This last spring Dockside Sailing Press of Newport Beach, Calif. published “Everyday Creatures,” a collection of 13 essays.
If you’re looking for a beach read this summer, skip Tom Clancy and spend some time with Jim Kenagy taking in the surprising beauty of ordinary life in wild places. You’ll be glad you did.
Read the full story on the Columns Magazine website.