We had just moved into the prettiest house I had ever seen. It was in Georgia and the back yard was every nature loving child's dream. We had creeks full of salamanders and craw fish and woods littered with logs busy hiding frogs, snakes and lizards.
Note: This was also the house that my brother and I decided to test the great "Silly Putty on a bare bulb theory" (and no,, it does not glow any brighter that way!! Trust me!!), but that's a story for a different blog post.
For some reason on the far end of our property there were a huge pile of sinks. We cleaned them and arranged them in a large square to hold animals. My brother and I then wandered for hours in the woods each day finding creatures (mostly reptiles and amphibians even scorpions and rattlers) for our "zoo". The neighborhood kids were then charged luxurious entrance fees in compensation for our hard work.
My mom was very understanding of the passions of my brother allowing him to bring creatures home and take responsibility for them. When cages were at capacity and she felt it was time to release or stop intake we would be forewarned. My brother and I took excellent care of these animals and we rehabilitated many an injured creature always sure to research each species and release as soon as possible.
My favorite save was a Pileated Woodpecker we named John Pierre. He was the most beautiful bird I had ever seen with an injury to his wing. My mother had taken a course on ornithology and was well versed in the care of this magnificent creature. He was released a few weeks later and hung around our yard the whole time we lived there.
One time when we were "at capacity" we found the most beautiful Garter snake we had ever seen. Thick and healthy, it was a zoologists must have item. I watched my brothers eyes light up and knew I was about to help break the rules to smuggle this creature in.
We filled an aquarium with pine straw and hid it in the back of the garage (suave kids that we were).
In the morning the birds were chirping and the dew was freshly dripping off blades of grass - and- we found out why this snake was so "thick".
It had buried itself in the pine straw and as we tap-tap-tapped something odd happened. Little heads started popping up everywhere. This momma snake had given birth to handful after handful of babies (we counted 82!!!!!! Which is extremely rare as most garters have 30-40!)
The Garter species of snake is one of the few varieties that have live young. Guess we hadn't researched that fact too well. So up the stairs to stutter out a sentence of outright disobedience to our Mom. Mom took it like a champ saying something like "See what happens when you disobey!! It always comes back to you,, now get the camera!!"
We proceeded to take pictures of the babies curling through my hands, braids and my brothers pockets before releasing them and being grounded for a few looong weeks.
I will think of this memory as my kids grow up and find their passions, nurturing them and possibly cultivating lifelong career paths. My brother ended up living his dream and has accomplished amazing things in a field that he has loved since childhood. If he had been stifled, maybe this would not have been the case and he would be stuck in a suit behind a desk somewhere stewing in corporate BS (like I did for 21 years and will start again soon,,, sigh).
Let's start the path to living our dreams and encourage our kids to live theirs!
No matter what that may be!