Rocks, Bugs, and Boys

Rocks and fossils were last year’s summer vacation theme. The five of us, my husband, me, and our three boys would make an afternoon of rock hunting and searching for fossils out and about in Central New York. The area of the state is perfect, due to the topography and geological timeline. We were astounded to hear our then six-year-old yell out, “I found a trilobite!” The boys even had luck sifting through our neighbor’s landscape rocks; easily identifying fossilized coral. With specimens in hand off to the Canastota Public Library we would go to do our identification research. All the librarians knew of our summer project and would suggest new locations or share their own treasures. It was an adventure we all as a family enjoyed, as well as, a great learning experience for the boys.

This summer’s theme, much to my dismay, became all things bugs. I guess having three boys I should know that’s part of their makeup. Insects are certainly more difficult to embrace over fossils, but a learning experience none the less. It started when our middle son found a large, may I say huge, dead black beetle. “Mom, this is awesome,” remarked my four-year-old. The next specimen was a horse fly larger than the size of a U.S. quarter. I was nearly eaten alive by the thing at the breakfast table while visiting family on Cape Cod. “Get it Mom,” the boys screamed. Their shrills were followed promptly by “get a bag so we can save it and look at its beautiful green eyes.”

When we came across a beautiful yellow moth, without a field guide or our local library to identify it, I turned to Twitter. The boys would ask every few minutes, “Did you get a reply yet?”

On and on went the summer with our bug findings. As our collection grew, their beauty was undeniable to us all. Whether a black beetle, cicada, horse fly or the molted exoskeleton of a June beetle, we collected and drew our findings with true enjoyment. “Mom, the legs fell off this one, so I am not going to draw them.” I was fine with that.