I volunteer at a the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, a mini but official and special state park located in Culver City. We had our season’s first (and my first ever) full moon night hike for May’s beautiful super moon on the 24th. We began the night with some cake to say goodbye to our beloved Azalie who is moving up north for school and then did some karaoke while we waited for the people to arrive. We had about 60! and Kristen (the SP head interpreter) did a presentation on eye shine to a room full of kids and their parents. It was beyond adorable. Eye shine is what the animal’s eyes do at night when the light hits the outer eyeball. Each animal has it’s own color of shine, which is amazing to me! She’d show a shine with green eyes and ask the room to guess which animal and every single color shine (seven in all) initiated the kids to shout out OWL! Every. Single. Time. It was hilarious! Of course the owl was the last slide and the color was red. Even spiders have eye shine, which is a light pink. If you feel inclined to hike in the forest at night, you can shine a flashlight and look down the beam to see scary eyeballs glowing at you. NO THANKS! I remember doing a guided night cruise on the Amazon river in Peru to look for Caiman eye shine. It was terrifying but exhilarating. Our guide would shine the light and see a pair of glowing eyes, then speed over in the boat and we’d see they Caiman close up. They didn’t move somehow. Blinded by the light? Maybe?
Anyways, I digress. There was no eye shine to be seen on our hike since it was so light out from the surrounding city. We walked around the visitor center and immediately saw a ton of brown garden snails and the kids were freaking out! It warmed my heart when I heard a father tell his son that ‘we take only memories from the parks’, as the little guy waved a vacant shell in his face, wanting to take it with. We saw several cottontails after that. There was some extreme tree hugging as well as moon and star gazing. We wrapped around the visitor center and eventually made our way back. This is why I love interpretation, it’s making the ordinary come alive! and it can be done in so many ways because the natural world is so wondrous. The hill came alive that night with the sound of children’s laughter and the energy of the community uniting to explore and appreciate our glorious moon. It made me feel so happy and inspired – full of ideas for the next one! Is it weird to tell the kids that snails are hermaphrodites?