The last time I ran miles for Michelle, she was at home in Philadelphia and I was enjoying a rapturous communion with the desert on the island of Bonaire. The tables were turned on Tuesday. During my final, laborious ascent up the Harlem Hill, Michelle was looking for Manta Rays in the waters off Donkey Beach.
It turned out to be a fruitless search for her, but she’s seen plenty of Parrot and File Fish, or as she calls them, Hillbilly and Doofus Fish, because of their weird facial structures. She also found a tiny juvenile Trunkfish, which at a casual glance, looks like a speckled ball about the size of a pea bobbing around in the coral. If you look closely, you can make out tiny eyes and a small, frantically-waving tail. These little guys grow up to be around eight inches long, with an odd, boxy shape and a pursed, distended mouth which they use to sift through the sand for food. Wiggling your fingers in the sandy bottom will bring a pack of them over to investigate.
While the trunkfish’s odd shape makes it a slow swimmer, it also makes it difficult for bigger fish to swallow and thus, Trunkfish have few predators. Making it even less delectable is the Trunkfish’s tendency to secrete a mild poison when it gets nervous or upset. But if you saw one, you wouldn’t want to eat it. If people lived underwater, we’d probably keep them as pets, or try to attract them to our homes with whatever the aquatic equivalent of a bird feeder would be. It’s oddball shape, tiny mouth, and soft, calfish eyes give it a lot of cute appeal.
I made my final climb up the Harlem Hill, placed at this point in tuesday’s run to simulate the Boston Marathon’s Heartbreak Hill and was glad to be done with it. The last two miles took me over the Three Sisters hills, past the Delacorte Theatre and along the Lake.