It was a perfect day to go canoeing, so my aunt and I went. The Chicago River Canoe and Kayak company are really smart for capitalising on water sports in Chicago and the suburbs, and apparently they’re open every day from 9am to 8pm on weekdays, and 10am to 7pm on weekends. You can choose between a canoe (2 people), a kayak (1 person) or a tandem kayak (2 people), and they charge by the hour.

The place I went to was along Skokie Lagoon – a quaint little lake/reservoir thing that’s quite large. The water’s not that nice to fall into since it’s pretty dirty, but otherwise it’s quite serene despite being right next to the bike trail and some roads. Lots of trees surrounding the whole area, although the cotton’s been flying around like crazy lately so there was a layer of fluff floating on the surface of the water. It can snow in June!!

Along the way, I spotted a blue heron perched on a fallen tree, and my aunt told me that it was the resident heron since she always sees it in that same area. But after canoeing for a few more minutes, I spotted another heron flying close to the water. Then later on, I saw another pair of herons flying side by side. I thought I was seeing the same 2 herons again and again, or there was a family of 4 herons all hanging out together on fathers’ day, which seemed quite appropriate. The herons seemed to go along with all the families that were also kayaking/canoeing together.

Seeing all the herons together got me thinking: why is it so difficult for us to tell apart the same species of animal apart? I know that animals with a patterned coat (e.g. leopards, zebras) each have their own distinct stripes or spots, like a thumbprint, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to tell one heron from another heron, or one penguin from another (not comparing babies with their adult version, of course). Yet it’s so easy for us to tell one human from another, as our features seem to have a larger range. Maybe it’s only because we’re used to our own species that we can tell the difference? Plus we seem to have more variety in personality due to our intelligence and highly social behaviour, so we know who is who. Even if we can’t see one another, we can recognise the voices of people we know or by the words they use. Perhaps according to the same principles, animals of the same species can distinguish one of them from another, just like we can. If these animals can be so unique among themselves, how much more are we special to one another!!

Anyway, have a Happy Fathers’ Day! Make sure your dad knows just how special he is to you, because everyone only has one father!! Biologically, at least. All the father figures in our lives are just the icing on the cake.


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