It’s pretty often that Boy Wonder learns the lesson that moms usually know best. And these experiences usually occur when I make him do something that he insists will be “booooring.”
Even though it ran past his bedtime, I wanted to take Boy Wonder to The Parklands’ “Urban Wildlife” event with Jason Nally from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. I knew he’d love it. In Boy Wonder’s mind, he imagined we’d be out in the woods with flashlights searching for creatures. When I broke the news tonight that we’d actually be sitting in a classroom listening to an expert talk about different local animals, his shoulders dropped and his countenance morphed into one of disappointment.
“But you’ll get to ask questions,” I baited. “And we’ll find out where all the animals live so we can look for them ourselves next time we’re in the woods.”
“No, I don’t really wanna go,” was his response.
Well I’ve already registered so we’re going, was mine.
His skepticism held strong until we walked into the PNC Achievement Center and Hannah Graham immediately introduced Boy Wonder to a turtle that lives in an office there. Then he walked into the cheery green classroom where the talk was held, and was immediately drawn to the plethora of wildlife posters covering the wall.
“Look mom, spiders,” he said pointing to the poster that fascinated him most with an icky look on his face.
It wasn’t minutes into Mr. Nally’s discussion before Boy Wonder’s eyes lit up and his mouth dropped open. This expression of awe continued throughout the presentation each time Boy Wonder learned something new and awesome about the animals that Mr. Nally covered.
And for someone who didn’t want to go, Boy Wonder sure had a lot of questions.
On the topic of beavers, Boy Wonder raised his hand in that urgent call on me, call on me way that kids do, and asked, “So are beavers aggressive?”
Nope, not aggressive.
And then when the topic reached that of coyotes, it was “What’s the difference between coyotes and dingoes?”
A couple of oceans, Mr. Nally replied, as dingoes live in Australia, and coyotes here in North America.
Then, when Mr. Nally steered away from mammals to discuss mussels, Boy Wonder really thought he had him this time.
“How can mussels even be considered animals? I mean, they look just like a sea shell,” and “how do they even move?”
Well, actually mussels are a shell with lungs and organs underneath, and they eat and reproduce just like any animal. In their whole lifetime, mussels may move only a few feet. Boy Wonder turned to me with that look of awe and whispered, “Can you believe they only move that far their entire life?!”
And then there were the skulls and otter skin that were passed around to the audience. As the otter skin moved around the room and got closer and closer, Boy Wonder could barely stay in his seat.
Unable to stay a passive listener for long, Boy Wonder shared a few facts of his own.
“Did you know the Louisville Zoo is getting a snow owl exhibit?” and “Peregrine falcons are faster than a cheetah when they swoop down. They can swoop down at hundreds of miles an hour.”
Mr. Nally concurred. When peregrine falcons swoop, they are the fastest animals on the planet.
And Boy Wonder wasn’t the only one learning; I came away with a few pieces of new knowledge too.
Did you know there are actually bald eagles in the area? There are several known bald eagle nests within flying distance to the area and so it is very possible to catch glimpse of one. I had no idea. I’ll be on the lookout from now on. And, there are actually wild pigs in the southwestern part of the county. Wild pigs?! Who knew.
And it always amazes me how intelligent nature is. Like the fact that the white spots on a fawn’s back resemble sunlight on the forest floor so they are not easily spotted by predators. Or that beavers have a flat tail so they can swat the water and scare off intruders, but otters’ tails are built like a rotor so they can move swiftly through the water to hunt.
Yep, it was an evening of the best kind of learning there is. Thanks to Mr. Nally and The Parklands for offering this one-of-a-kind outdoor wildlife experience.
Oh, and I couldn’t help but boast a little as we left the park. “See, I told you you’d like it.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah was Boy Wonder’s response, shrugging off my insinuation. He never likes to entertain the possibility that he was wrong.
Rebecca Hall is a Louisville native whose love for hiking has deepened as she’s gotten older. She works at a local engineering firm and spends her time away from the office exploring with her 7-year-old son, Ryder (affectionately referred to as Boy Wonder in her blog), and their dog, Molly Bassett Hound. This is an account of their adventures enjoying the many amenities The Parklands has to offer.
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