Day 2: A Natural Exchange
We have five kids and our youngest is now 11. I am at a place in life where every day I have with my kids is a gift. Children grow up and fly away and I want to savor every last minute. So, when I have a couple of hours on a Friday, I will ask my youngest child, “What do you want to do today?” I ask it because I know that just around the corner, he will not want to do fun little adventures with me anymore. I will be too old and he will be too young. So, carpe diem!
Today, when I asked the question, he asked, “Can we go to the Nature Center?”
Now, our nature center is probably the coolest nature center in the world because it has a Nature Exchange program. If you haven’t heard of the nature exchange, you are truly missing out on life. The Nature Exchange allows you to bring in interesting or rare nature finds to receive points. Here’s what you’ll see there: skulls, dried bugs, sea shells, rare rocks, pine cones, petrified wood, fossils, hornet’s nests, and unique wood specimens.
People from around the world have donated or brought in items for the exchange. Upon receipt, each item is assigned a point value. For example, a pine cone is worth 25 points, a murex shell is worth 500 points and a dinosaur bone may be worth 50,000 points. The fun of all this is that you get to trade in the “boring” nature from your yard and get something completely exciting from someone else’s.
Today, my 11 year old had 3 skulls for trade. On a scale of 1 – 10 for boy-factor coolness, skulls get a 10, especially if they have teeth intact. Brian, at the exchange desk, can literally identify any nature item. He can tell what animal made it, ate it or lived in it. In our case, it was determined that we had two raccoon skulls and a hog skull! Pretty gnarly.
I think there was a little remorse in parting with the hog skull. But, when he saw the exotic rocks available for exchange, all was well.
Not long after we made our exchanges, a new family of five came in the door. Being the nosy observer, I peeked in their cardboard box and saw antlers, a sea creature, pine cones, and more. Guess what first object their middle boy “purchased?” The hog skull! That skull sat on the shelf for a total of 15 minutes before it went to the next curious boy.
Right before we left, Brian gave us a special viewing of a gigantic hornet’s nest.
This was an afternoon I won’t regret taking with my nature boy. Now, back to grading papers and laundry.