This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.
The winter has released its icy grip on Baltimore. See you, old man.
Yesterday I saw my first robin. On the 20th, Irvine Nature Center is hosting Find The Frogs: a campfire with s’mores + frog sounds + very possibly wet shoes because “frogs like rain.” Heavenly. It’ll be good to break my son, 9, away from Minecraft. “Never dig straight down…” is what he’s been mumbling in his sleep.
The sun came out. At first I felt like I was at an awkward cocktail party. I was like, Hello? Do we know each other? while trying to balance a plate of hummus and cocktail wieners. Then I realized what I was experiencing was heat.
I took my big winter anorak to the dry cleaners — nice knowing ya, buddy, enjoy the next six months mothballed– and replaced it with a light blue windbreaker with butterflies on it. It — like much of my wardrobe — is a kid embarasser. “Mom? Really? Insects?” “Insects are out,” says my daughter, 7, who will probably be a future Pantone color designer. My son, 9, says, “Sometimes, Mom, there is a wrong time.” He’ll probably be a politico.
I say, “My jacket is a conversation starter. The monarch butterflies need our help. We need to be planting more milkweed.” Both kids go ::facepalm:: But, I can’t help myself, this is how I talk to their friends’ parents on the playground that, as it thaws, is more like a peat bog. I’m a heartsleevy wonk who by turns gets doe-eyed and fawn-like about sea otters, and shad and shrill, data-driven and environmental laywer-ly about ex-urban sprawl.
“It doesn’t go with your polka dot rain boots,” my daughter says, eyeing my pattern choices with suspicion that I’ve committed a crime against fashion. I will admit the jacket is a little worn from mud season, last year. It smells of work. Good, healthy, outdoor labor. “Protect the root ball!” is something I have definitely yelled while wearing this jacket.
I say, “Mommy’s Mud Outfit displeases you? It’s mud season; it’s a mess out there. There is so much runoff from impervious surfaces, and, darlings, all that crap from the roads’ and mall parking lots’ monumental salting gets into the Bay.” It’s river and stream clean-up time.
“Mommy needs her butterflies and boots.”
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