Suddenly the children disappear and I see them out the window, these children who do not like vegetables, running and laughing and chasing each other through the Project Grow gardens. Over by the prairie, we meet Sergei the teenage insect expert, who teaches us how to catch insects with a butterfly net, and who identifies the day's finds - lubber grasshopper, Chinese praying mantis, crab spider (Little Brother's eyes open wide: "You mean like Mr. Crab from SpongeBob?!!") - while treating us to a continuous description of these fascinating creatures: their habitats, their range, their habits, the spot of red on this one's wings, how that one first came to America in the 1800s. The children and I march through the tall grasses while singing at the top of our lungs, picking wildflowers, and stalking insects.
No longer are any of these simply "bugs." I emerge with a newfound curiosity about even the housefly buzzing by the ceiling - I wonder what kind of insect that one is . . . exactly?
Bug Fest returns to Leslie Science & Nature Center on Saturday, September 20.
[Review published September 2008]