The rest of October is going to be relatively quiet for the Triffid Ranch, but things start livening up in November. Specifically, four weeks from this coming Saturday, come out to the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas’s Fair Park for its “Discovery Days: Discovering Reptiles & Other Critters” exhibition. And before you ask, just because it’s listed as a kid’s event doesn’t mean you have to be one to show up. If you’re really self-conscious about asking questions around a herd of sharp-as-whips third graders, don’t feel badly: I’m going to be the target.
As to why carnivorous plants should be included in an exhibition on reptiles and amphibians, well, I have a secret. If you’re unfamiliar with the Borneo pitcher plant Nepenthes ampullaria, this should be your chance to see the one known carnivorous plant that acts as a frog tadpole nursery. And if that doesn’t intrigue you, I’ve got nuthin’.
I live in a city that’s relatively bereft of tourist sensations. That’s not to say that Dallas doesn’t have a lot of reasons to visit. It’s just that most of us learned a long time ago that you have to keep the fun stuff on the QT, or else it’ll be overrun by SMU brats and subsequently ruined. Music, art, fun things to do outside…when the horsefaces and hipsters show up, it’s all over. This is why Dallas’s official attractions consist of proving that George Romero was directing documentaries and explaining why our official slogan is “Aside from that, Mrs. Kennedy, what do you think of Dallas?” These keep the Cokespoon Contingent busy, mostly so they don’t notice that the rest of us are going to Fort Worth.
Because of this, we don’t tend to express surprise when locals and tourists haven’t heard of a particular offbeat attraction. Or at least we try not to do so. For instance, when the Czarina calls me at work to tell me about some new and intriguing event, I don’t scream “Oh. My. GOD. You didn’t know about this?” Instead, I simply point out that I tried to tell her about it three weeks earlier, but that my voice apparently had more of an annoying mosquito buzz than usual. That’s perfectly reasonable, and I don’t blame her in the slightest. (Saying anything else usually leads to tears, concussions, and the Czarina rubbing her elbows and grumbling “Your head gets harder every single day, you know that?”) We only save derision and incredulity for real cluelessness, such as those who assume that Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club is still going.
This is why I wince when I share with local friends the discovery of something well outside, such as the Garden Museum in London. Out here, the snort of “I can’t BELIEVE you didn’t hear about this” is the province of the horseface. Besides, do you have any idea how many of us dedicated Texas gardeners would set fire to a bus full of paraplegic nuns for the opportunity to see a museum dedicated solely to 400 years of gardening history, much less enter it?
Yes, we now have yet another reason to visit Mother England. The only other option is to start up our own gardening museum on this side of the Pond. I’ll definitely get involved…the moment I discover, perfect, patent, and license the 78-hour day.