Thursday, September 4, 2014

Will the Real Lady Slipper Stalker Please Stand Up?

About a week ago, I was getting into my car to drive to school, and I noticed something on the windshield, tucked under the wiper. It was a photo of a Showy Lady Slipper, our State Flower. 
The Photo in Question
There was nothing on the back side of the photo to indicate when it was taken, much less who might have taken it. And I can't be sure exactly when it was placed on my car. Most likely, a colleague, a former (surely, not a current!) student, or a friend placed it there sometime while my car was parked in the Marshall School lot on the 27th of August, though I suppose it's possible that someone snuck into the garage of my apartment building and put it there early on the morning of the 28th. (I find the latter possibility more disturbing, for obvious reasons...) I might have driven home on the 27th without noticing it on the windshield. 

I sent the photo-of-the-photo above to the whole faculty and staff via email and asked who took it and put it on my car, but no one has confessed yet. I'm starting to confront folks in person, levelling at them Dr Nygaard's famous "evil eye," but still no confessions. I posted the photo-of-the-photo on Facebook and again entreated the Slipper Stalker to 'fess up, but no joy.  

I've considered all kinds of possibilities. Over the summer, I donated some art supplies, including lots of paper and card stock, to the Art Department. Maybe one of my own photos got mixed in, and one of the Art teachers simply returned the photo to me? I've taken so many photos that I'm not sure I would recognize them all immediately (though I have gone through most of them, now, looking for a match--no luck). Mr Anderson and Mrs Burns both claim they are innocent (though you never really know with Mr Anderson, right? And he's always toting that camera!). I hardly ever print any of my photos, anyway, so this scenario seems unlikely.  

Let's run down the list of other possible suspects, shall we?

  • Ms V-B claims she didn't do it--she was the first to proclaim her innocence, though, so perhaps she protests too much? I know that she has seen these flowers in the past.
  • Mrs Gilbert-Redman has a nice camera, and I know she has occasionally visited places where such flowers grow. She has yet to declare her innocence. [See Update below]
  • Mr Pearson also says it wasn't him (but, again, with Mr Pearson, you always have to wonder if he's pulling your leg).
  • Mr Johnson (Upper School) swears it wasn't him, though it could be, because he does a lot of hiking in the woods, and he's really interested in wildflowers, but I don't think he carries a camera with him very often.
  • Mr Johnson (Middle School) has been silent so far, and we know he's always walking the trails on campus. (I've heard rumors that there's a Lady Slipper somewhere on school grounds.) 
  • I know that both Madame Greenan and Ms Oswald went camping in the Itasca State Park area when such Lady Slippers were blooming this summer, and Ms Oswald even texted me for advice on where in that area she might be able to take some photos of Lady Slippers. Madame insists she's innocent, so I figure that makes Oswald Prime Suspect #1. (We're Facebook friends, so I went through her photos there, and while she has posted two Lady Slipper pictures, they don't match the one in question.) [Update:  Oswald says she's not the one!]
  • Another highly suspicious person, in my opinion, is Mr Friese:  he's always hunting for edible plants, mushrooms especially, and I know he's encountered Lady Slippers while doing so. I often park my car right near his classroom, too, so that's another strike against him. --And he's got a sneaky side to him, so let's make him Prime Suspect #2
  • Then there's Mr Diener. He works for the DNR during the summers in the State Parks; he's done time at Jay Cooke and now at Gooseberry. He could easily be responsible, and so far he's been silent. Prime Suspect #3? I think so!
  • Ms Momsen also works in the State Parks during the summer: in fact, I talked to her in the Main Office at Jay Cooke this summer when I went there to take photos of the Showy Slippers, and since I have a feeling the photo in question may have been taken at Jay Cooke, I think that makes her Prime Suspect #4.  [See Update below for a change in Momsen's status!]
  • There's Mrs Kosmatka, of course, the school photographer, but I don't know of anything else that would make me suspect her other than her role here.
  • Mr Lockhart goes hiking in the woods, and he tells me about flowers he's seen, so it could be him.
  • Ms Stiles goes camping and sees all kinds of flowers, or so she tells me, but I don't think she takes a lot of flower photos.
  • Mr Risdon spends a lot of time in the woods hunting, but deer season doesn't coincide with Lady Slipper Season.
  • Mr K-J is always biking through the woods, but I think he's moving way too fast to snap a photo.
  • A lot of former students, far too many to list here, could be the culprits. I know some of them have been hiking in Lady Slipper territory this last summer, and some of them might recognize my car (a few even know where I live), so there are some possibilities here:  Manilan Houle denied any part in this, even though he spent the summer working near my apartment building. Brandon Chanell, who is a really good photographer, and who used to work for a cleaning company that rents space in my apartment building, is Prime Suspect #5.  [Update:  He just contacted me to declare his innocence.]
  • It could definitely be Mr Schonfeld--he's an outdoors guy who takes nice photos, and I haven't heard a peep out of him. [Update: Mr Schonfeld has declared his innocence in a comment below.]
  • It could also be Ms Ball--she gets out and about in the woods a good bit, and she's been suspiciously silent, but she's usually in Hawaii when the Slippers bloom. [Ms Ball says she didn't do it!]
  • One of my friends was interning with the DNR all last year, and I know she has seen Slippers and other orchids, and has taken photos of them. She has yet to deny her involvement. 
  • I know it's not Mr Mattson, as he doesn't like being around spiders, and where there are Lady Slippers, there are often spiders.
    Flower Crab Spider on Showy Slipper; photo taken along
    the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway, near Bemidji.
Well, I can't think who else it might be. In a few weeks or so, the English 12 students will be reading some Sherlock Holmes stories. Maybe we'll acquire some detective skills that will help solve this mystery. They could even become my "F-wing Irregulars."  Let me know in a comment if you know what that means--or if you just want to confess... I really want to know who took that photo, and where!

[Further updates: Among those claiming innocence are Mrs LaFond, Mrs Kanoff, and Mrs GR ... Mr Pearson has just informed me that Momsen's cat is named Lady Slipper! I think that makes her Prime Suspect #1! Over the weekend, Momsen declared her innocence, and supplied me with two photos to "prove" it...stay tuned for further blog posts on this issue.]


  1. Haha Love it:-) Now I want to know who left it!

  2. The Crab Spider picture here is beautiful! It wasn't me, but I'm going to think of you and take a picture the next time I see one. I have some favorite spots for fishing in Canada where I always find nice Lady Slippers like the one in the photo.

    1. Thanks, Mr Schonfeld. I'll update the post to note your innocence. I know there are lots of Showy Slippers up near the border and on into Canada. One of my future goals is to get up to the Baudette area, where I'm told there are hundreds of thousands of such plants.

  3. I will forevermore run the other direction should I happen upon a lady slipper: I didn't know they were lairs for treacherous eight legged fiends! Good luck ferreting out the photo-placing culprit :)

    1. Hi, Laurelyn! Please don't avoid Lady Slippers because of the Crab Spiders! They're really cute and rather friendly. DId you know they can turn color? When they hang out in Yellow Slippers, they slowly become solid yellow, and then when they move on to pink Slippers, like the one above, they turn white with pink stripes. If you look closely, you can see the pink stripes along the sides of his body.

  4. Although I, too, love to snap some flower pictures when I'm out hiking, I usually do a close-up, slightly abstract view. However, now that I know about the close relationship between lady slippers and arachnids, I might have to rethink all of the lady slipper pictures I've taken (mostly yellow slippers) and also closely examine my plans to take more pictures in the future. (I agree with Laurelyn and Mr. Mattson on that account!)

    Oh, and I also shall declare my innocence, but I am intrigued even more by this case. It has now escalated to Blog Level I!

    1. I would love to see some of your photos, Mrs GR! Those Crab Spiders are sneaky--I once spotted a spider on a Slipper when I was editing the photo--I never saw him while I was taking the photo!

  5. It was NOT Julie Ball. Remember the picture she sent you from the Big Island? You know, the Japanese Orchid that grows like a weed in the woods?

    1. Yes, Ms Ball, I remember your lovely postcard from Hawaii. It would seem to give you an alibi! --Though you may have had an accomplice working here on your behalf...