Earth Day with kids, snakes and mud at Eden Mill Nature Center

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    BANV & daughter celebrated Earth Day in a particularly environmental way today. We visited the Eden Mill Nature Center in Pylesville with her nursery school class. I was a little nervous about the visit. In order to attend the event at the historic property that includes hiking trails, canoe trips and a nature center, parents had to sign a three-page acknowledgment of risk form and were told to bring a spare change of clothes including shoes (which I, of course, forgot.) When we got there, we realized Earth Day nature trips are not for the faint of heart. The field trip began with us walking right through a honey bee trail. Our guide explained the the bees take off from their hives at a 45-degree angle and fly well over our heads to get to the tree blossoms lining the creek. But my daughter didn’t buy it. She made me carry her past the hives. Then they took us into their nature center where they keep some of their wildlife. Our guide started by brining out a snake. I thought about making an excuse to leave the room, but I decided I should be brave for the kids. I learned that the snake’s nose is under his chin and that his forked tongue actually helps steer him toward his prey. By the time the guide put the snake on the floor to explain how he slithered, I was getting rather intrigued and my daughter had let go of my hand and moved to the front of the room. Next they led us to their wetland, where it became clear why the paperwork was needed. They had buckets of black rubber boots in kids’ sizes and two pairs for adults and asked for two volunteers. Luckily two other moms wanted to slog into the shallow muck. The rest of us thanked them profusely. The kids took turns wading into the pond up to their shins and using huge nets to scoop up pond gunk. The guide then picked through the muck to find pond life. One little boy lost his balance and sat right down in the water. (His parents forgot a change of clothes, too.) At that point, my daughter turned to me and asked “Did you bring me extra clothes?” When she found out I didn’t, she wiggled right out of her boots and said she wasn’t going in. I told her it’s fine. We have a pond and a net at home, though we don’t have anywhere near as much living in it. At least I hope we don’t. I did learn that dragonflies begin as like bugs resembling tiny crickets that live in the water. That explains why I always have dragonflies buzzing around my pond in late summer. So, it was messy and a little scary, but rather enlightening and certainly a good way to spend Earth Day. For more information on the center, see their website at http://www.edenmill.org/.