The Hardware Store and a Butterfly Experience: The Ultimate Suburban Florida Weekend

B with one butterfly.JPG

I’m not saying I’m getting desperate, but I decided it would be fun for us to take a family outing to Lowe’s over the weekend. This may sound crazy, but I can explain. We need some new carpet, and anything beats sitting around and watching YouTube. Or so I thought.

Perhaps it doesn’t bode well for our upcoming summer that I’m already out of leisure activities, particularly indoor ones that allow us to beat the relentless heat that is just starting to descend for its annual six-month stay. But that’s one concern that will have to wait a month or so. In the meantime, we have some re-carpeting to do. Well, Lowe’s does, but we have to tell them what we want and pay and all that. It’s really ridiculous when you think about it. Here we are in the year 2019 and we still have to shop and pay for things. I honestly thought we’d be past all this nonsense by now, but I also thought we’d have real hoverboards, so life in the future is turning out to be one big disappointment.

Anyway, it seemed simple enough. The plan was we’d pile into the car and Michelle and I would collect all the shoes that everyone refused to wear because putting shoes on in the car is superior to doing so in the house, as I’m sure you all know. Then we’d collect up some snacks and water cups because this outing was going to last at least thirty minutes and any trip over fifteen minutes requires full rations. And then we’d drive to the store, pick out some carpet, and that would be that.


I forgot about the cart situation at Lowe’s. For those of you who are unaware, Lowe’s has the mammoth shopping carts that are truly stomach turning. There are two extra plastic seats for kids that extend off the back of the cart, stretching the cart’s full length to a very manageable and easy to maneuver 39.5 feet, give or take a few feet. If you’re looking for something to touch the Grinch with, you could do worse than one of these Lowe’s shopping carts. And the size of the cart wasn’t even the worst of it. While I was looking at carpet samples, I became entranced with the plushness, as one does, and suddenly I realized I had wandered away from the cart. The urgent cries of “Daddy! Daddy!” coming from the end of the aisle snapped me out of my carpet-induced stupor and I rushed over certain I was going to find one of the children or possibly an elderly stranger pinned beneath the Titanic-sized cart. But this time, all was well. They just wanted to examine the remote-control window shade display across the aisle and it couldn’t wait. Then I got sucked into the remote-control window shade display because, yeah, it is pretty cool, and before I knew it, hours had passed. Only later did they progress to careening the cart into carpet displays.

Anyway, we eventually made it out of Lowe’s and I think we’re still allowed back. We even bought hot dogs for two of the kids on the way out (the third kid hates hot dogs and all other foods) and parts of them even got eaten before they ended up on the floor of the car in a puddle of tears. It’s hard to top Lowe’s and hot dogs, but we had something left up our sleeve. The butterfly experience at the local plant nursery.

Somehow, we’d never actually been to the butterfly portion of the nursery even though we drive by it often and even buy garden supplies there once every couple years when I randomly decide caring for plants is something I want to do (spoiler alert: it’s never something I want to do). This butterfly trip was long overdue. And it turns out it was an actual experience. One you had to pay for, yes, but an experience nonetheless. We paid our admission, received our laminated butterfly identification sheets, and entered the butterfly greenhouse/tent thing that was attached to the back of the gift shop.

The tropical wonderland was filled with plants, including most notably a few cacao trees, butterflies, and some small birds. Behind the small waterfall, there was a screened porch called the Refueling Station. The Refueling Station is filled with butterflies and there are small cups of Gatorade for people to dip their fingers in to feed the butterflies. The attendant informed us that some people like to take selfies with butterflies on their noses, so I wasn’t about to let that opportunity pass me by.

There it is

There it is

I also managed to get some pictures of the children, but the butterfly on the nose selfie was the reason I paid six dollars per person.

Michelle opted to take one for the team and forego the butterfly experience so we could save that six dollars. So, sadly, she doesn’t have any selfies with a butterfly on her nose. I feel a little bad about it, but on the plus side, she wasn’t the one who had to inform the attendant as we were leaving that there was an injured butterfly who needed assistance. My seven-year-old made me do it and my heart is still racing a little from the stress.

On the way back to the car, we stopped for photo ops at various animal statues and took a detour to wander over and admire the donkeys and cows lounging in the shade behind the nursery. Man, we are suburban to our core, but also ruggedly rural. We are Florida. We are Orlando.

All things considered, it was a relatively successful Sunday. And when you add evening soccer on top of all the hardware store and butterfly excitement, it makes for a pretty exhausting day. One day down, approximately ninety more to fill in the coming months. Here we go!

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