Culture Magazine

Five Princes (and Two Dogs) of Serendip Were Sitting on the Shore of a Campsite in Northern New Jersey...

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
...when along comes a Spotted Lanternfly that lands on the thumb of Prince Adam:
Five Princes (and two dogs) of Serendip were sitting on the shore of a campsite in northern New Jersey...
Prince Bill (that's me) then took a photograph of it, several in fact. Why? Because he had his camera with him and he likes to take photographs, more or less on general principle, and of whatever strikes his fancy.
We [to drop the Princes of Serendip conceit, but not the story that goes with it] chatted a bit about this creature, wondered what it was and what it was doing, and then it jumped away. And that was that. When I got home that evening I rendered some of the (over 640) photos I'd taken, including that one. Earlier this morning I posted the photo to an photo group I belong to, the Jersey City Photography Meetup, mostly to offer a technical tip. 
I'd bought the long lens (a 100-300mm telephoto lens] to shoot distant graffiti, it's very useful for photographing small object's you're close to, like flowers or, in this case, insects. I was sitting about 7 or 8 feet from Adam and the lens was at 260mm.
That was it. Just a photo tip. But someone recognized the fly as a nasty invasive species that had recently (within the last year) invaded New Jersey. Someone else posted a link where I could report the fly, which I did. I sent the photo along with where we were (campsite 72 at Round Valley Reservoir).
Let's review, for the point of this post is that stuff happens, aka, serendipity is alive and well. 
  1. The five of us were camping for no reason other than the fun of hanging out in the forest for a day. 
  2. The fly landed on Adam's hand because, well, flies do that sort of thing.
  3. I photographed the fly because, well, I do that sort of thing.
  4. I posted the photo to my photo group to offer a photo tip because what's what photo groups are for.
  5. Two people who knew about the fly were members of the group and informed me about the fly,  giving me a place to report it. Why? Because that's what helpful people and good citizens do.
  6. And I reported it. Why? Because that's what good citizens do.
What's the causal chain like? When we decided to go camping, reporting invasive species was not on our mind, nor was any kind of citizen's duty. Yes, we kept all our trash in a bag and hauled it out, because that's what responsible campers do. Other than that, citizenship and civic responsibility was not on our minds. And yet that's where this chain ended up.

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