I think children should be outside with the birds instead of inside playing Angry Birds. That said, nature is nature, and one needs to be careful what you say to young children. For instance, this conversation I had in September 2012…..

“Uncle Neil”

“Well, if it isn’t my favorite seven year old niece!”

“Where have you been, Uncle Neil?”

“I spent a few days up in Benezette.”

“Is that far away”

“Five hours drive. Its in Elk County. Do you know what an elk is?”

“Is it like a bear?”

“No, it looks like a deer, but its much bigger. A hundred years ago there were no more elk in Pennsylvania, but then the Game Commission brought them here from the Rocky Mountains, and now there are seven hundred or so living in Elk County around the town of Benezette.”

“Why did you go see the elk, Uncle Neil?”

“Lots of people go to see the elk. Every fall the elk go into rut…..”

“What’s rut?”

“Well, err, ahem, it means the elk, well, they,,,, they get married.”

“They get married like Mommy and Daddy!?”

“Oh, I hope not. I really hope not.”

“Did you go to the elk wedding?”

“Well, I did. Its interesting. The boy elk will fight with each other before they choose the girl elk they marry. But sometimes the girl elk doesn’t want to marry the boy elk.”

“Why doesn’t she want to marry?”

“I don’t know. Maybe she just wants to be friends. I know that’s what women always tell me- err, ah, maybe she wants to have a career first before she has a family.”

“What job would an elk do?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe lawn care? They are all over the place, eating the grass on lawns. Or they could work at the visitor’s center. This one was greeting all the visitors.”

“Uncle Neil, you’re silly.”

“Yes, I am. And you are wonderful. Never change, please. Never stop asking questions.”