Apport Updates

Kage Baker, as I had previously mentioned, was fascinated with the idea of apports. These are items which appear out of nowhere, out of context, and remain where they can be handled and pondered.

They are frequently stones, jewelry, pieces of silverware or china or glassware. Sometimes they are rains of unlikely things: rains of fish and frogs are well known in both folklore and Odd News articles. Lately, rains of dead birds have been occurring in the United States, although most of them have had tragically mundane explanations related to pollution and agricultural poisons …

(Apports, by the way, should not be confused with “ooports”. Ooports are items that not only are found out of context, but in physically impossible places. Toads sealed in stone are the classical example, but the 20th century has also brought news of other goodies: forged metal chains found in virgin coal seams. Human footprints in solid rock known to be 100 millions years old. Nails, screws and even a spark plug found in presumably ancient rock. Kage felt most of these were the results of con artistry and bad geology, but there are some interesting ones out there in the records.)

Well, here is an interesting coincidence on this topic for us all to savour! In yestreday’s post, I made a rather light-hearted reference to tons of pilchards (sardines) being apportly dumped in Kansas. One of you Dear Readers even pointed out that only European sardines may authentically be called “pilchards”, but I think that the weirdness quotient of sardines of any variety appearing in vast, dead, numbers in land-locked Kansas far outweighs my possible species misidentification. If sardines are going to fall out of the sky over the Midwest, they are just as likely to be Mediterranean as Pacific.

However, for those who like their piscine apports and floods of fish to be from the correct area, I give you this article from today’s Contra Costa Times:

This reports an invasion of “billions of dead fish” at Redondo Beach, California. And they are sardines.  There was no red tide, no presently known force to slaughter all these little fishies. They just appeared, floating dead and pallid, amid the fishing vessels and weekenders’ yachts in King Harbor. In my own gleeful defense, I would like to note that the article says they were first mistakenly identified as anchovies; evidently, identifying dead fish usually found in tins is difficult even for the experts.

While they will almost certainly turn out to be the victims of some ordinary disaster, at the moment it is still an interesting coincidence and mystery. I mean, I could literally drive down there and see them – King Harbor is only about 30 miles away from where I live.

Kage would want to go see them, were she here – I am sure of that. It’s just the sort of thing that she would want to lay eyes on first hand. Of course, she detested fish …  I know just what would happen. We’d get there and she’d have one of her pirate bandannas tied around her face (with her long braid tucked under it as an extra olfactory filter), hanging out the passenger window of the car and exclaiming in delight and disgust at the reeking carpet of dead sardines. And she’d have me drive back and forth a dozen times while she risked her sinuses and her neck to get a good idea of the scene. And then she’d complain about the smell all the way home to write about them …

There’s   been a lot of activity on the Pacific Ring of Fire lately.  I wonder if they show signs of being boiled?


About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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6 Responses to Apport Updates

  1. Luisa Puig Duchaineau says:

    This is so delightfully seredipidous (sp?) it *has* to be Kage, sending a sign (albeit a smelly one) in your defense. Too rich and wonderful to be ‘just coincidence.’

    And I’ll bet they were boiled … maybe … just a little bit.

    Thanks for the link. I’ll be smiling all day, now.

    • Kate says:

      Luisa: I can’t help but feel charming strangenesses like this are a sign of Kage. At the very least, they make me think of her in her most adventurous moods. And that’s fun.

  2. Chris says:

    Wait – Isn’t that where a tiny, bearded man (who shall remain nameless) once had a slip??

  3. Mark says:

    The late news had marine biologists reporting that the fish had entered the calm shallows of the harbor in such an enormous school that they exhausted the oxygen in the water….and suffocated. They observed that the local harbor staff were skimming the fish and trucking them to a dump site. And my first thought was, somewhere there is a farmer who would *really* like the free fertilizer that apparently is going to waste.

    As for yesterday’s pilchards, it’s a question of cuisine… While I like the canned European and Spanish examples, the fresh Pacific ones salt grilled by my local sushi chef are scrumptious. And I missed the Kansas pilchards in my few years in the state…and wonder if there may have been a windstorm or tornado to blame. Certainly the weather was energetic (and weird enough) that I would not entirely discount the possibility.

    • Kate says:

      Mark: fresh sardines are, indeed, scrumptious. I even like the canned ones, myself.

      Yes, their sudden migration into crowded shallow waters is now being blamed on the wild wind and wave action we had here last night. The marine people think the fish came inside the breakwater looking for less froth and windy fury, and turned left into a dead end – if they’d turned right, they might have survived. Still very strange …

      My local news station reported that the scooped up fish were going to a composting station – so I have hopes that they will all rejoin the great circle of life as fertilizer. Mayve on city parks, which are much neglected these days. That would be nice.


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