Growing up on a lake in Minnesota provided all sorts of fun experiences most kids probably didn't get. Like being able to catch bullheads from our backyard. These were really disgusting fish, but they were the only thing you could catch in Lake Winona. We never actually ate them, we would just maim them and throw them back.
And why don't they make E.T. iron-ons anymore?!? Dude, I would so wear that shirt again if I could find one. Although, the whole tight-pants look probably wouldn't work as well for me anymore.
In fifth grade I won first place in the county science fair for my crystal growing experiment. Now this is something no eleven year old kid could get away with doing today. I'm still surprised how easy it was for me to purchase some pretty nasty chemicals at the local pharmacy. The cans they came in were the best part. Each of them came in plain brown cylinders complete with the word "poison" printed in huge letters and an actual skull and crossbones decorating the front. It was almost comical, like I had ordered them from ACME for a mad scheme to off the roadrunner or something.
Hey, there's my completely out-of-place paper-mache' dragon guarding the crystals, too! Holy crap, I was a geek...
One year I decided I wanted a bow and arrow. But my parents would only buy me arrows, so I had to make a bow myself. I used a stick and a rubber bike innertube. It worked surprisingly well, actually. And I was quite the archer, if I do say so myself. Even at this extreme range I was usually able to hit the box.
My bird-nerdy tendancies emerged when I was quite young. This photo album includes no less than twenty crappy pictures of ducks, geese and assorted birds. But I did much more than just take pictures. I was also notorious for feeding/taming wildlife in our backyard. The most memorable "pet" I had was Redwing, pictured here taking some incredibly nutritious Wonder bread from my hand. I spent the better part of a summer training him to come closer and closer until he would take food from my hand. He came back a total of three summers to nest in the cattails in our backyard. Each year he'd become more tolerant (and more demanding) of me, my family and my friends...really, anyone who didn't know not to slam the screen door onto the deck.
By the last summer he was with us, Redwing was "tame" enough to perch on my shoulder and eat birdseed from the palm of my hand.
I also aspired to be a nature photographer, even in elementary school (which is still something I aspire to, actually). I would use any excuse to "borrow" my parents' camera in order to "finish" a roll of film...particularly rolls that still had 20 or so pictures to "use up." I was such a helpful child.
Anyway, this picture has always been one of my favorites, taken in 1986 at my grandparents' house in St. Cloud, MN (that's my grandpa's foot in the background). I even submitted it to the National Wildlife Federation magazine for their amatuer photo contest. I didn't win.
So, that's a smattering of memories from my childhood. If only it was as cool back then as it is now to be a nerd/geek. I would have been the most popular kid in school. Well, at least as an adult I can bask in all my geeky glory.