Today Nate, Elli, and I went to the Montshire Museum of Science with friends. We regularly visit this museum thanks to the gift of an annual membership from Mom and Dad, aka Grammy & Grampa. The Montshire is one of my favorite places to go with the kids. It's always changing and capturing our imaginations. One day it may be playing with air tubes and foam balls, another its dropping helicopters on the unsuspecting visitors below, or discovering and playing with the fog in the special "hidden" fog room. Whatever the highlight is that day there is almost always a significant stop by the colony of leaf cutter ants. Nate and Elli have spent amazing amounts of time watching and feeding these little creatures. The colony is relatively large and somewhere hidden in there is the queen, who is reported to be about the size of my pinkie. We are all in awe of these little ants that cut such massive pieces of leaves and stagger back to the fungus garden with them.
One of the reasons that the Montshire is so special to me is that I kind of grew up with it. The experiences it gave me really helped to foster my joy of learning and playing. When I was a young child I have memories of visiting it often at it's Lyme, NH location. I remember, it being fairly small with maybe four or five rooms. Even then it captured me and I loved to visit. I remember Stanley the snake (Stanley turned out to be a girl), the huge dinosaur fossil, dissecting owl pellets, and even a special Halloween visit where we got to touch oozy, gross things. As I got older the Montshire took some special shows on the road. I learned that you could shatter a rose and a raquet ball, make snowshoes out of some black pipe, awesome ice cream in a recycled can, and even learned how to make a boomerang using two rulers. As a young teenager we moved out of the area, but then came back. The Montshire made a move too to its current location in Norwich, VT. I remember the awesome experience of taking my Grandmother there when I was in my early twenties. I remember her wonder at it all, and enjoyment in seeing the "clockworks" upstairs. These reminded her of my grandfather who had had a love for building clocks. I still cannot pass through the upstairs section without thinking of her, and him. Now I take my children there and the joy of discovery continues. It's pretty amazing.
I am so glad to have this special place of play, memories, and learning. What's yours?