Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Naturalist

a student of natural history
; especially : a field biologist

I've mentioned here before that Buddy is a great lover of creatures. He's been like this since he was very young and his passion has intensified as he's gotten older.

He usually spends his quiet time every afternoon studying his "animal papers" as we call them. He reads well enough and understands maps well enough to learn quite a bit about each animal like their proper names, where they live, what they eat, how big they are.

Animal papers all over the floor after quiet time.

The bin that holds the rest of the animal papers. Every time I see this mess I thank my aunt, the giver of the animal papers.

He often takes on the personality of an animal and considers it a great compliment if you tell him he looks like a hawk, runs like a cheetah, or is tough like a mountain lion. (And yes, he knows that a mountain lion and a cougar are the same. And yes, he wants to be a BYU Cougar some day. GOOD BOY!) Yesterday I went to let him out of quiet time and he had transformed himself into a tiger.

He started t-ball yesterday and the most thrilling part of the whole experience is that they are calling the team "The Snakes." He claims it was his suggestion. I wouldn't be surprised.

For Easter my cousins gave him a new "Vanishing Species" book that he has been reading like crazy ever since. He is quite concerned that the animals in the book could soon be extinct.

He gets extremely upset if someone harms an animal, even unknowingly. Like when he asked all the neighbors in our last neighborhood who ran over the smashed and dead lizard he found in the road. (That was probably six months ago and just yesterday he told me he still misses the lizard. He didn't even know that lizard until he found it dead and tried to nurse it back to health by building it a nest, finding it food, and checking on it throughout the day. Finally G threw the thing away so we could get on with our lives.) And like the other day when he literally yelled at our new neighbor for accidentally slamming a tree frog in her front door. (He has no idea we have a dead bird problem in our backyard. We don't dare tell him for obvious reasons. He'd be terribly upset and he'd try to bring the birds back...)

One of his favorite places in the whole world is the wildlife refuge down the road from our house. It's a really beautiful place and we go there as often as we have time. We went last week when grandma and grandpa were in town. We left grandma and great-grandma at the top near the parking lot with Sambo and Buddy and I set of to explore for a few minutes. A few minutes turned into over an hour because we ran into a volunteer "naturalist." Before that day I had no idea what a naturalist was. But from all observations (mine and the guy's), Buddy is definitely one. The guy had a bird guidebook and let's put it this way, we'll be picking the same one up soon. (Buddy suggested it for his 5 1/4 or 5 1/2 birthday gift. I thought that was pretty clever. Too bad we don't give gifts for half-birthdays.) The naturalist taught us all sorts of interesting wildlife facts. He walked with us and showed us where a beaver had chewed a tree at least 25 feet off the ground. Buddy was confused because "beavers don't climb trees." "Exactly!" the guy said, "That's how high the river was at one point." He told us where we could see a big turtle sunning itself, helped us know the difference between an egret and a heron, taught us a lot about eagles and hawks, and he told us to get some binoculars and start using them in our backyard when I told him we see red-tailed hawks on a daily basis. And that was only the tip of the iceberg. Buddy was practically frantic having such a wise resource at his fingertips. (I'm not very smart, you know.)

So when we got home G reminded me we do have some binoculars. And this morning when Buddy spotted a bald eagle while he was eating breakfast, I sprang from the kitchen and found them. I didn't used to be an animal lover. But there is something just amazing and inspiring about watching an eagle or hawk flying over our home.

Every day Buddy asks me to print a couple pages from the Internet to color to add to a book he's been working on. Today after seeing the eagle through the binoculars, he added a bald eagle to his book. He colors the page carefully, then writes a few facts like what they eat on the adjoining page.
In a round-about way, he wrote his name and bald eagles eat other birds and fish.

I'm not sure what he'll be when he grows up: he still says Seaworld employee or an FBI agent. He's so well-suited for both, I honestly can't decide. What's your vote?


Nicki said...

I'm still dying over the stripes on his toes! All I know is that Buddy had either marry one of my girls or we just stay friends forever because I need him to be the comic relief in my life! And I vote FBI agent :)

Myndi said...

I vote for SeaWorld employee.

Next time you guys visit here you should totally take him to 1) The Ogden Nature Center (which is home to several birds of prey that are too injured to live in the wild) 2) The Dinosaur Park and 3) The Treehouse Museum (which has a large treehouse in the middle of it). I can't believe we've never done any of these things that are literally less than 10 miles away. He would also love Antelope Island.

Finally, I feel a little--or a lot--stupid when Buddy talks about anything. How can his little mind be so curious and hold so much information? His zest for life is infectious. Maybe he can teach Hippo how to focus on something for more than 15 seconds.

R said...

Buddy is one of those rare people who will actually make a career of something they dream of since they are young. Good on him.

J said...

I vote SeaWolrd!

I always thought I loved animals but he puts me to shame.

Grandma S and I were talking about the love of animals being passed from her to me and we also spoke about it rapidly spreading to Buddy. Amazing!