Tuesday, December 4, 2012
In Under the Snow, the hearty waterboatmen are shown mingling with the bluegills under the pond ice. My book brain immediately thought of my buddy Joyce Sidman's book Song of the Waterboatman & Other Pond Poems, winner of a Caldecott Honor Medal in 2006. I revisited it today to refresh my memory about the featured insect.
The waterboatman is similar to the backswimmer, and their bodies and legs do, indeed, look like boats and oars (see http://www.earthtimes.org/nature/minuscule-water-boatman-boasts-loudest-shout/1105/ for a detailed image). I like to imagine the bubbles they carry on the sides of their bodies to help them breathe. Joyce describes that better in verse:
"Of plunging deep, I have no fear.
To breathe, I keep some bubbles near,
trapped on my chest in a silver sphere
...on a sunny summer's morning."
- from "Song of the Water Boatman and Backswimmer's Refrain"