I used to work as a naturalist at a nature center in Nebraska. Naturally (pun intended), this was a very enjoyable job for me. I spent most of my time taking visitors on hikes in the woods and naming the plants and animals that we saw on our walks. I got to do this every day, and people never got sick of it because they were always new people! (Huzzah!)
I also spent a lot of time teaching day camps for children, which is very fun and, if you haven’t noticed, it has influenced the way I think a lot. We sang songs about toads and dragonflies, hiked in the woods, and painted with leaves. I think I had just as much fun as the five-year olds, and a great deal more than the pre-teens.
One day, I was leading a hike with seventeen 5 year old boys (as an aside, teaching 17 five year old boys is quite the challenge…their favourite game was tug of war with my arms, nine on the left and eight on the right!).
We were going butterfly catching, so the other day camp teacher and myself had equipped the boys with tiny plastic butterfly nets.
But as we came around a bend in the trail, we encountered a flock of enormous male wild turkeys, known as toms. They were beautiful animals, fully decked out in iridescent breeding plumage, full of russet and chestnut browns. But they were also huge! They were, in fact, larger than most of our five year old charges.
The boys were the perfect size to count as a challenger of supremacy in the mind of the alpha gobbler, so he poofed up his feathers, dropped his wing tips and started slowly rounding on the first boy in line.
The other teacher and I shot a look at each other and began trying to shoo away the turkeys with the only thing available…our butterfly nets.
As we made pathetic shooing motions, two tiny old ladies wandered around the bend from the other direction. Blinking at us owlishly in surprise, one exclaimed, “Are you trying to catch those turkeys?!”
With a butterfly net?