Monday, May 29, 2006

Field Tripping

Friday was a blogless day, as I was on a field trip with DD's class to the Hillman Marsh. We were lucky it was a bit overcast, as the day was warm and we would have fried like little sausages out on the open marsh all day. We got to see muskrat dams, and tent catterpillar homes, nesting boxes of robins and swallows and red wing black birds. The robins could have cared less, but the swallows would swoop us and the black birds "tisked" while shaking their tails to tell us to GET LOST. We saw a little turtle (the size of a quarter. How the kids even knew he was in the grass I will never know). The kids got to lie on their bellies on a platform, and scoop in the water with sieves to see what they could find. Snails, water tigers, minnows, crayfish. We were a little late (or early) for tadpoles so that was a disappointment but we got over it LOL. There was a great blue heron out in the water. I never realized how BIG those suckers were. This thing is as big as a man, it's wingspan had to be like seven feet. Close to the shoreline we got to see carp frolicking together. And at one part, we went up on a deck to see literally hundreds of carpenter bees. Now, let's just stop here a minute and disect that sentence. We intentionally went up on a deck especially to watch carpenter BEES. I can assure you, this was not MY idea. In fact, none of us was too eager to get up there once we knew what there was to see. But it was kind of like having to eat the mashed turnip scooped onto your plate while having a holiday dinner with your boyfriends family for the first time - you feel OBLIGATED. You don't WANT to do it. You shudder thinking about it. But you buck it up, and up the stairs you go. So now you have a group of parents who really do not want to go look at bees, trying to convince a bigger group of little children that it is OKAY to go up and look at bees even though we are all thinking we would rather eat a tadpole than climb those stairs. Smaller kids and bigger kids would have been fine, but these are kids at the ripe point of being scared of anything bigger than a gnat. There are two main rules when going up stairs to a rickety platform to look at bees. No screaming, and no flailing. These kids are in grade one, and those are some big friggen bees. There is gonna be screaming and flailing and I just HOPE that it all isn't coming from ME. DD is deathly afraid of most bugs. I refuse to blame it on myself, since she was this way far before she ever saw me do the bee dance or become too scared to cross the porch in the daytime. It is genetic, I am beginning to believe. My mother once left us four kids in the house alone after a hornet flew in the front door. She stood on the porch and begged us to come outside, since she was not going in there with THAT thing. My father came home to find her sobbing on the porch, and the four of us sitting on the couch and eating chips in the good living room. I don't actually remember this, and I am not sure that I wouldn't have done the same thing in her shoes. Those hornets are pretty ugly beasts. When DD was around one year old, she was sitting in her high chair. And there was a fly in the house. Every time it would zoom by, she would squeeze her eyes shut really tight, put her head down on the tray, and cover her head with her hands. Poor thing, she was really really scared. Flies, gnats, mosquitoes, fruit flies, ants, moths, spiders, lady bugs, you name it she is afraid of it. So now I have to convince this child that screams when she sees a ladybug to climb those wooden steps and - quietly and calmly - stare a colony of carpenter bees in the face. Literally. There are certain ones (males, I think) that kind of stick around the nesting sites and just hover. They aren't exactly protecting their nests, but rather looking to mate. They hover, right about eye level, and do a slow weaving dance. They will come right up and look into your face...."are you a lady bee?". And once they decide you are NOT their type they weave over and hover elsewhere. Knowing in your head that they are not hostile, that they are just curious and are not interested in chasing or bothering you is one thing. Having an insect the size of a guinea pig hover an inch from your eyes is a whole other deal. At the same time, other worker bees are zooming back and forth. And while they zip around back and forth, they make no attempt whatsoever to avoid obstacles in their path. Other bees, children, adults. Standing on a piece of driftwood wavering in the breeze at the top of a flight of rickety steps, with guinea pigs in your face and being pelted by small projectiles that buzz does not a happy memory make. I wanted to enjoy it. I wanted to let the experience transcend from something frightening into something wonderous. But it was not happening, my friend. All the Paxil in the world would not have made that happen, but it sure did make me wish I was still taking it. Poor DD was so, so brave. She DID go up those steps. She DID stand on that platform and get pelted and investigated by bees. And she did the whole thing clinging to me like a baby koala and with her eyes closed. When I announced that I think it was time to go back down, there was a zipping noise as the air closed back in around the hole in space where her body had been. She made an exit like the road-runner from those old cartoons. Only thing missing was the "meep meep". And if the stairs had been a little sturdier I just might have beat her down. So that was my Friday. I had to go into the office afterwards for a meeting, so left DH and DD in charge of making dinner. I returned home (after getting caught in a surprise downpour that soaked me to the underwear) to find out he said it was okay for two of her friends to come over and no dinner started or planned. Seems he figured I could just whip something up when I got back. No Way. I hardly had enough energy to change my clothes, let alone cook dinner for three hot, tired, and hungry first graders and an impatient DH standing in the kitchen and tapping his foot. I sent him for Kentucky Fried chicken. Over the week-end my brother, sister, and two brother-in-laws helped us put that gigantic roof on it's poles. So now we have this huge, hulking (yet lovely) thing on our patio. It is nice to sit in, but we don't have any nice patio furniture and I feel odd sitting in there on a crappy lawn chair. I feel like there should be an immense bed in there, covered in cushions ala Ali Baba. Or some luxurious lounge chairs and a small, low table. You know, to put the grapes on. I think two shirtless cabana boys might be enough. Standing in the corner, fanning the lounges, peeling grapes if need be.

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