There and Back Again @ 07:55 am
Our trip to Chi-Town was successful. Mason got to see "Sue," as well as fall deeply in love with the "Evolving World" exhibit in the Natural History Museum. I had to laugh. Whereas I was very much conscious of the fact that we only had an hour until we were going to meet up with Susan and Zoe (the most adorable baby in the world), Mason just wanted to watch the prehistoric ocean video over and over. It was fairly awesome. I was completely animated, but it looked real. It showed various prehistoric arthropods and triobites and other weird creatures -- some of which, we learned from a volunteer, they couldn't animate eating because they still hadn't discovered where the mouth of the animal was located. I shot some video of the video, so that Mason would always have a little taste of that exhibit. Anyway, Mason was much less impressed with the hall of the dinosaurs (which I have fond memories of tearing through with Maureen McHugh's husband, Bob, at the Chicago Worldcon. I really wanted Mason to see the underground exhibit that Bob and I loved best, but, alas there was no time. Next year.)
My favorite part of the trip happened while we were waiting for Susan and Zoe to find us. Right on the lawn between the Field Museum and the Shedd, a hawk came swooping down and landed in the grass -- which is quite unusual for them. I thought it looked like it might have captured something like a songbird, so Mason and I crept closer to investigate. It took off with a pigeon in its claws and dragged it into the underbrush. Then all of a sudden -- whoosh!!! -- out flies the pigeon in one last daring attempt at an escape!! Mason and I are watching this drama with our mouths open. I'm shouting, "Go! Pigeon!" But, the hawk won the day. She nabbed that pigeon right out of the air and slammed it into the ground again. This time opting for cover right away. A couple of other women passing by watched with a lot less enthusiasm. I think they thought we were pretty insane to be so enraptured with this gruemsome display of the natural food chain in action. Anyway, with the excitement over, Mason and I noticed Susan coming, and we all exchanged hellos and greetings and oohing over the baby. Then as we were heading in the stroller-friendly entrance to the Shedd, who should hop up out of the bushes but the well-fed and satisfied hawk! It sat there digesting for some time. I got a great photo of it, which I hope to put up here sometime soon.
The jaded Chicagoians mostly ignored the hawk. I mean, here was this amazing and magestic wild animal sitting less than a foot from the entrance to the Aquarium and most people just walked by it, as if were a common sight. If I hadn't been "oohing" and "ahhing" and shouting my excitment to Susan, Zoe, and Mason, I think most people wouldn't even have stopped. Which seems wierd to me, since they were all headed in to "view" animals. The experience reminded me of what Mrs. R. said about Mason at our parent/teacher conference. She seemed genuinely impressed at how engaged he is in his environment. At the time, I mentally chalked it up to our lack of TV obsession, but I think that it's all down to grandma and grandpa Morehouse in the end. My dad was notorious for slowing the car to a crawl the moment we spotted an egeret in the marsh between the north and south side of LaCrosse, my hometown. My mother could identify most species of wildflowers, even when we were passing clumps of them at highway speed. My folks would have been just like me -- shouting "Holy cow! Would you look at that hawk?!!!"
The Shedd was amazing as usual, though as Susan said at one point, "And now we're viewing the exhibit: Sea of Humanity!" There were a LOT of people there -- of course it was a Friday, so I should have figured, but it made the experience a lot less personal than say the one we'd just had with the hawk. Mason's favorite part was seeing the baby hammerhead (shovelnose?) sharks, and the blue monitor lizards in the new lizard exhibit. Again, most people just took a look to see if they could spot the animal and then moved one like a scavenger hunt, while Mason sat and watched those blue monitor lizards for ten or fifteen minutes. They were very active and... uh, playful. They laid on each other, as, I told Mason, ima and mama do.
It was a good time, and I'm very glad to have met little Zoe and had a chance to hang out with Susan, even though it was classic parent with children chat -- a few minutes of "oh, yeah, the baby" and "hey, Mason, don't get lost!"