I was watching someone's excellent sketch audition reel the other day, and almost completely lost it duringÂ one of his requisiteÂ animal characters--it was anÂ impersonation of a certain pupating insect, and it was genius. I'll post as soon as it's public. I've had my own regrettable, inadvertent run-ins withÂ theater games, and shape shifting was never my, um,Â bailiwick. ButÂ even if I were really good,Â I still think I'd have a hard time capturing the essence of the alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus, of the herring family--not a married keeper of an alehouse). The only distinctive thing I knew about them before todayÂ was that they have a lifespan of about sevenÂ years, which is how I--and various Midwest urban legends--rationalizedÂ the droves of dead fish that seemed to flank the beaches of my youth every seventh year.Â ButÂ theseÂ mass deathsÂ aren'tÂ justÂ the end ofÂ the lineÂ forÂ seasoned 'wives; theÂ deaths actually take place whenever there's aÂ drastic temperature change inÂ the water.Â When it'sÂ warm, they'llÂ ventureÂ into nearshore watersÂ to spawn,Â but if the temperature drops due to prolonged westerlyÂ winds,Â theÂ die-offs start and there they are lining the lake shores. Most interestingly,Â though, Colonial AmericansÂ harvested them in order to make a high-proof pregnancy (well,Â purportedly just for labor)Â brew called "groaning ale." So, bringing it back to the alehouse after all...
Alewives: a very different kind of wife
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May 29, 2007 - 29:05am