Saturday, January 10, 2009

the big, wet beaver

This is a story about our trip to a local nature center, not the local strip club. If you were envisioning anything other than a giant rodent after reading this blog title, you are just a bad person. And you should learn to live with that. Or read less Vonnegut.

Anyway, I woke up yearning for adventure.

Unfortunately, with a toddler, a newborn, and a postpartum body, "adventure" is a relative term. As I surfed the internet, trying to think of an interesting activity, my daughter began asking me questions about the animals in her Franklin book-- a fox, a hawk, a beaver, and a turtle named Franklin.

So I asked her, "Who is bigger-- mommy, or a beaver?" And she said, "A beaver".

"Oh, no!", I said. Although I was flattered, I had to sort this out. "Mommy is much bigger than a beaver. Beavers weigh 30 or 50 pounds, and mommy weighs... eh... a little more than that. Mommy is also much taller than a beaver. And less greasy."

Much to my surprise, she said, "No, a BEAVER is BIGGER."

And the deal was sealed. We were going to the nature center for an object lesson.

We picked up my mom and headed over to the nature center, which has been around since I was a child. I couldn't wait to show her the rehabilitated raptors, snakes, and turtles. And that stupid beaver. I was also anxious to take her picture with the 349 year old "stuffed" snapping turtle that has been on display since I was knee-high to a snapping turtle in their Discovery Center.

We paid our $10 and tried to make the Biscuit show interest in snakes and turtles. She was more interested in the books *about* snakes and turtles. We walked outside under ominously drizzling, gray clouds. We pointed out the fascinating hawks and owls. She was more interested in putting up the hood on her sweatshirt and jumping in puddles. I began to see why parents become frustrated with children who don't immediately fulfill their sports dreams. How did I end up with a kid that doesn't really care about animals?

Finally, we found the beaver, in all his furry, wet glory. He was huddled in the rain, blinking, doing what beavers do-- not a dam thing. Tee hee. Triumphantly, I turned to my daughter.

"See the handsome beaver? Now, which is bigger, mommy or the beaver?"

"THE BEAVER!!!" she hollered, and proceeded to jump in another puddle.

And then the downpour started. We ran down the path to the Discovery Center that has always housed the most fascinating animals and displays, including the Snapping Turtle of Yore. And we careened into a fence that blocked the demolished husk of the building we sought. PWNED! They had our $10, and we had sopping wet clothes, no Discovery Center, no turtle, and nowhere to run but all the way back to the car in the rain while carrying a wet baby.

And of course we couldn't say anything about being totally gypped because, you know, it's for the ANIMALS. If we asked for our money back, we would have been scroogily denying the Cooper's hawk a box of dead baby ducks.

Luckily, my mom saved the day, possibly because she's on too many meds from a pulled tooth. She took us all to Red Lobster for lunch, where we drowned our animal sorrows in cheese biscuits and shrimp. And, for the Biscuit, in Ranch dressing.

It was a good day, beavers and all.

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