Teenagers pitching tents at Montrose harbor, my kids hanging with a kestrel and petting a black rat snake. Strange the things that can root me to this earth, tug at my heart and make me hang on.
The ``Fishin' Buddies! & Mayor Daley's Fishn' Kids Conservation Expo 2009'' was everything I expected at Montrose Saturday--lots of wildlife and outdoor professionals explaining things in a fun manner--and more on a personal level.
It was rather delightfully kids-style hookey. Can you say Sammy Smallmouth Knot Tying? Missy Smeltz Aquatic Food Chain? PHAT-Mama Perch Recreation Safety Course? (The last one is probably my favorite.)
You get the idea.
But the overnight camping at Montrose is probably the do-all, be-all.
It was pretty neat to see teenagers setting up tents, and having as much trouble trying to figure out the ins and outs of where the poles go as everybody else who has ever went tenting.
John Kidd Jr. and his crew at Fishin' Buddies have doing kids' urban outdoor stuff down to a science.
That was the professional side of my life.
In my world, the professional and personal collide all the time. Saturday was a perfect example.
On the personal side, my emotions are mush. With a kid in ICU heading toward a week now, things can make me weepy or touch my heart in ways that normally would not matter much.
I tried to squeeze in some work Saturday morning by stopping by to see Mayor Daley dedicate the river launch.
Then a quick hop up to Montrose with my two youngest kids before picking up Grandma, who was flying in to help out. We grabbed a hot dog at the stand across from Park Bait.
While it is natural to focus on the kid who is sick, the kids at home need attention and love too. And my wife and I tried hard to make that work the past week. The juggling act takes work.
After the dogs, we walked down to the Conservation Expo.
And it turned out to be as good for the kids as it was for me to see it on a professional level.
Sam and Sara were quite impressed at the Trailside Museum booth with Sara Rose's American kestrel.
After they gave it a good look, another kid came up and Sam and Sara began looking under the table. And found a black rat snake in a cage. When they found that, it was brought out and they were allowed to pet it.
I don't why a snake made me blubbery, but it did.
It was time.
We went across the road to look at the tent area, then to get Grandma.