It seems appropriate, if not a little anti climactic to write about lovebirds on the last day of February, but I had to: my not quite 5 year old son, Max got so excited about an event featuring two pairs of them (lovebirds) that it was a little like being a groundhog on Groundhog Day; I didn’t see a shadow, but an opportunity—to reap tons of educational benefit from the next junior naturalist community event; as I find out about them, I’ll post an Examiner column to let everyone know. (Side note: Book mark www.sawgrassnaturecenter.org–we are so heading out to their “Brunch with Bunnies” later on in March!)
The Sawgrass Nature Center shows up at the Coral Springs Whole Foods Store with a new critter once or twice a month, and if you’ve got a kid aged anywhere from 4 to 12, you really ought to go. I think it’s worth it to let parents—the ones who shy away from lectures and demos if their preschoolers are in tow because they think they’re not sophisticated enough to handle it—know that it’s actually quite the contrary. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised, my friends.
I’d wanted to see one of these Whole Foods animal lectures before, but until yesterday wasn’t able to synchronize my family’s timing; in fact, I nearly missed the lovebirds too. Yesterday, February 27, we had cabin fever so bad, we left for the 2 o’clock animal show at 10 in the morning. We’d run all over town—the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker—anything to kill some time.
Actually, we breakfasted at Einstein’s. (I’ve started letting my kids run up to the cashier with money and merchandise, so they can learn about receipts and change, which eats up plenty of time because the clerks can’t even see them until they notice the dollar bill "puppet dancing" along the counter); we went to Home Depot for a fancy tape dispenser thing that’ll enable us to pack moving boxes if and when our moving day (try buying a house in this paranoid economy!) ever comes through; we’d been to Barnes & Noble to read every press board book they had, and after that we pet puppies in a pet store until our hands were numb. Yes, we did all that, and still arrived at Whole Foods with an hour and forty seven minutes to spare.
What was I going to do with them for nearly two hours? I wished I could grab a clerk at the Whole Foods by the lapels and beg him to start the show sooner. We milled around the crowded aisles, me marveling that the store does such great business when they sell $11 bottles of fruit juice. I have to admit I like it there too…there’s something exciting about all that organic packaging—makes me feel like an adult gone wild in a Montessori school playroom.
We bought a small juice and sat around in the café until the PA system announced the lovebirds show was starting outside.
The audience took up two park benches in front of the automatic doors entrance. I hate to admit that my first impulse was to get up abruptly, and pretend like I left something in the car. What can I say? I was just a bit panicked over the Q&A format the volunteer from the Nature Center was hurling at us. Seated next to a Maplewood Elementary school student, who looked about 8, I was happy that my kids will be districted to the same schools. She was answering everything like someone who’d been sitting in Johnny Carson’s greenroom with Jane Embry all night long. I, on the other hand, embarrassed myself by squinting at a photo of the continent the volunteer was shaking in our faces, making us guess where her lovebirds hailed from. Maybe there was something wrong with my contacts, but it looked like South America. It was not. The Maplewood kid set me straight.
The volunteer knowledgably explained everything about the 4 birds—two of them per cage. I watched my son take it all in. My daughter had no interest at all, and was beginning to slide irritably out of her stroller. We were told the parking lot traffic was making the birds nervous. She explained how they fight.
I tried to leave before the show was over and my son started whining and clinging to abandoned shopping carts, begging me not to go. “I want to look at the birds some more!” he said, “I don’t want to miss hearing everything that lady has to say about them!” It was a remarkably coherent plea for someone who still sucks his thumb, so I gave in and we headed back.
And that night, the kids’ father, who had to work that Saturday, listened to Maxwell's recount of our day with the lovebirds and was heartsick that he hadn’t been there. Next time, my love!