Redneck (shirt pulled down to show contrasting skin)
Thursday, my lovely wife took our splendiforous son out to see some of her mom friends and their children. Sunscreen would have worked wonders, but during his bath Ben didn’t complain once of pain, so he seems to be wearing the burn well.
Thoreau-ing our Cares Away
Last Saturday, I took Ben out to a place called The Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s a great getaway from the more than six million people in the Dallas metro area. It turns out it is just a couple miles down the road from where I work, and about 15 from where we live.
My pictures do not do The Heard justice. It is a nearby escape for the workaday weary.
Ben donned his red, blue and yellow backpack while I wore my own khaki version. I had snacks and water for both of us; we would not get caught unprepared.
We hiked a 1.6-mile trail through flat, thickly wooded forest dotted with stagnant pools of rainwater. Few rays of sun peeked through the nearly impenetrable canopy. In early spring, such conditions are perfect for the bane of many a hiker: mosquitoes — big, fat, Texas-sized bloodsuckers that buzz-bomb the innocent. To stop was to give the bugs time to home in on our chemical signal.
With a pace just fast enough to throw the nasty fly-abouts off our trail, we managed to have a great time. I counted at least 30 different bird calls and songs as we strolled through a place Thoreau himself no doubt would have loved. When I asked Ben what sounds the birds were making, he decided not to risk leaving out anybody. “Tweet tweet,” he said. That pretty much covered them all.
Ben was a trooper, his sandaled feet navigating the narrow trail with aplomb. Long grasses that flanked the path lashed his tiny feet with each step, but never evoked a complaint. Nevertheless, different shoes would be in order on our next visit.
After about 20 minutes, Ben seemed to hit a brick wall when he insisted that I carry him. I shoved my camera bag and his backpack inside my backpack, hoisted up the boy, and set a quick pace. Ben’s sandals, caked with trail mud, painted the front of my shorts a dark gray in that last 20 minutes.
In the two largest clearings, we saw a Bur Oak over 250 years old, and the largest Sycamore tree I’ve ever seen.
Back at the museum, we sat and snacked on Pepperidge Farm Goldfish (those baked and not fried fishies) before we took in exhibits featuring mostly snakes. A rattlesnake flicked its forked tongue and juddered its rattle at us as we watched through glass. That and the other snakes fascinated Ben.
To finish the trip, I let Ben play in the Fossil Dig area, where the museum provided plastic digging tools and lots of sand and fake rocks for the children to play paleontologist. I suppose they could play archaeologist, too, but dinosaurs are Ben’s favorite animals right now, so paleontologist it is.
You figger he has a twin digger?