Today I took two of my three gradndchildren to the Natural History Museum on McGill campus. It was a funny feeling to wander around the campus,where I spent many hours gas a youngster. My father was superintendent of all the buildings and grounds of McGill for years and we always lived very close by. Our addressed were elite before we knew what elite meant; Redpath Street, University street and right at the beginning Peel street just behind the Law Building. It meant nothing to us except that when the phone rang in the middle of the night, my father was at hand.
It was exciting to walk through he beautiful doors of the Redpath Museum with my grandson, eleven and my granddaughter almost seven. There are all the things that kids love, beautiful shells, minerals, fossils, dinosaur skeletons and taxidermy galore. There is a wonderful section on Egypt and mummies and a rather cramped section on ethnography. The shrunken head was an item of great interest to my granddaughter and I was at a loss to explain how one shrinks a head so we asked one of the educators who was walking around as a resource person.
What a charming person! Once Iman discovered that this was a person who actually listened and had the answers, there was no stopping her. After a startlingly complete explanation of the head shrinking process he was called to task to explain how trees are petrified, the meaning of tree rings and taxidermy procedures. Samy did his best but Iman fairly peppered poor Bruno until he finally realized that this child was not to to be fobbed off with the routine script. He finally took us into a sort of store room to,show us some rare specimines. There certainly were some odd looking animals in there.” Ah, a gnu”, remarked Samy to my surprise. I didn’t know the names of any of the various horned creatures in there among the piles of dusty books and old display cases. Then, best of all we were taken to a locked classroom where the ” first lion” is kept. His nose and mane are quite worn out by years of petting so he has retired to academia. We were imortalized posing with him in a picture taken by the kind Bruno.
To top it off,while we were sitting on the steps outside the museum musing (nice, huh?) on the lovely day we had had, I fished out some knitting that Iman had been wrestling with. Well, right there she got the hang of it. It is a little difficult to convince her to loosen the white knuckle grip on the needles, but she certainly got the four steps of completing a stitch. She knitted several rows and I had a bit of a flashback to my own grandmother teaching me. Many ghosts on McGill campus.
My only deep regret,is,that,the middle child was not able to come but….the others will regale him with their stories and next time he will be there marvelling at George the gorilla.