In Our Own Backyard…Is it real – or make believe?They say that playing make believe is one of those rites of passage in growing up – though some of us never quite get there.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Remember your childhood days of make believe? The Halloweens when you went adrift in the night dressed up as a witch or goblin – and believed you really were? The summer days when you played cowboys or cops and robbers and leaped out from behind trees to ambush one another? The tea parties when you dressed up in your mom’s pearls and high heels and sat around a tiny table with all of your dolls?
They say that playing make believe is one of those rites of passage in growing up – though some of us never quite get there.
I recently went to the Twin Cities for a couple of days with my husband, who was there on business. Since I found myself with a lot of time on my hands in downtown St. Paul one day, I decided to go walking and see what I might find.
I ended up at the Science Museum of Minnesota – along with about 500 kids. They must have been on some kind of field trip or something because they were everywhere on all five floors of the museum. At first, I was tempted to simply move on, thinking it was just too congested. But after observing their contagious enthusiasm for a few minutes, I decided to go ahead and plunge in.
As luck would have it, the first floor I visited was the dinosaur exhibit, which proved to be sheer pandemonium. The excited children were running everywhere and going nuts over the giant dinosaur skeletons. I followed a group of them around, and they knew the names of every one of the dinosaurs (including a few I’d never even heard of!).
Before I knew it, I found myself operating a giant set of Tyrannosaurus Rex jaws, and then standing next to two little boys to try my hand at assembling fossil fragments into a crocodile-like reptile called a Champosaurus (the little boys did better than I did!).
On other floors of the museum, I created surf and watched its effects as it crashed against the wall of a special tank, generated steam and watched how it turned to fog as I introduced it into cold air chamber, and I squatted shoulder to shoulder with a little girl as we looked on with wonder as a hummingbird turned the tiny “Tic Tac-sized” eggs in her nest over a special Hummingbird Cam.
I sat through a show in the museum’s Omnimax theater called “Tornado Alley,” and found myself flinching in terror along with all of the little kids as the tornado bore down on a small town in all of its fury.
I spent several minutes gazing through a kaleidoscope in the gift shop, and repeatedly turned a vial of colored slime over and over in order to watch it ooze down to the bottom in spectacularly shaped droplets.
As I walked out the door of the museum after a couple of hours, I felt as though I’d been transported back to the days of my childhood once again, and I couldn’t help but smile to myself.
But my day of make believe wasn’t quite over. We had been lucky enough to get tickets to the George Strait concert at the Xcel Energy Center that night. It was to be the farewell Minnesota appearance for my long-time favorite country singer as part of his “The Cowboy Rides Away” tour, and we knew that it would be packed with fans much like ourselves.
And so, as we headed out the door for the concert that night, the two of us were decked out in our Wranglers, western shirts and boots and for the next few hours at least, we were cowboys....