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Our dog Earl is a nine pound rat terrier. Rat terriers were born and bred through the centuries to rid barns and homes of — you guessed it — rats and vermin. At our house he rids the grass of cicadas and grasshoppers, rubbing most of the hair off his nose every August.  He’s a born hunter. In this picture he’s chillin’ at the lake.

During the day he has free rein outdoors. He sticks pretty close to us because of his failing eyesight and he loves it when I take him for a walk in the woods. Occasionally when an interesting scent attracts him he heads off trail to investigate. I always pray he doesn’t find something gross. Gross is great in Earl’s book.

Last September in my favorite part of the woods, he suddenly bowed his head and went off trail. He circled, tighter, tighter sniffing here and there but he kept coming back to something I couldn’t quite see. I walked into the dry weeds and found him bent over one of these:


My first thought was to get him away from this big green lump on the forest floor. Then I noticed there were several.

My next thought was alien pods. Aliens visited and left their babies in our woods.

Side note: This is a common occurrence at our house. I always catch movements of animals that magically disppear before I can point them out to anyone. When I tell my husband about my sightings he’ll often ask me if it looked like a beautiful white horse with a horn in the center of its forehead. Ha. Writer married a funny guy.

Back to my alien babies story…. Earl kind of stared up at me like, “What are you going to do about these?”  I bravely ( I thought I was being courageous) picked one up. It was heavy and it smelled sweet like a mango. Mind you, I live in northern Indiana and this is NOT a tropical climate.

When Earl and I got back to the house I plopped “IT” on the counter in front of my husband. “Do you know what this is?” 

My husband eyed it. “No, do you?”


We stood very quiet, not moving.

“Aliens?” I asked, hoping he’d laugh but he just kept staring at the thing on the counter.

Feeling courageous again, I reached and grabbed the cutting board and a knife.

“Whoa.” He said putting his hands up to stop me. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

I backed away. If I cut it open would I unleash a formidable gas that would fill the house with smoke and choke us? Is that what he thought? Nah. He was thinking more along the lines of allergies or bugs.

We did the next best thing: an Internet search. I can hear the collective sigh.

Sorry. No alien babies, no bugs and no gases to render us helpless.

The funky green potatoes were “paw-paws” also known as Indiana’s banana. That’s right folks. A freakin’ fruit!!!!! I’ve lived in Indiana for 32 years and haven’t once heard of an Indiana banana. Have you???? My husband has lived in Indiana all his life and has never seen one.

Did we eat it? You betcha. Paw-paws taste like a banana-mango cross and are very sweet and juicy. We even went back to the paw-paw grove (yes, we have an entire grove of paw-paw trees) and picked some more. Then we served it to our family at a little get-together later that weekend. They were suspicious but gave it a try anyways. Very brave! Best of all, no one died.

Just think, we’ve lived here six years and never knew, never once saw the paw-paws until Earl went off trail. It was a delightful discovery thanks to a little dog who can barely see.

It made me think about how we all get so busy living our lives day-to-day we forget to actively seek discoveries that can refresh our imaginations. We forget the delight, that childlike quality that brings new discoveries our way and stirs our blood for our creative pursuits.

To capture that wonder, spend some time with a child this weekend and do what they do — or spend time with your dog and go where he or she wants to go.  If you have neither dog nor child, take a walk in your neighborhood, go down a different street. Smile. This is all fuel for your creative mind.

Try a different cuisine, a different latte or read a book in a genre you think you’d never read. Get in your car and take that road you always wanted to explore but just never make time for. Shake it up and you will set your imagination free with the glow of new discovery. Go off trail.

Awww… come on… half an hour….GO! You just might see a unicorn!

Have you ever wandered of the path and made a delightful discovery?  Has someone else helped you see something you might not have seen otherwise? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear about your adventures.

Since I was gone last week there is no mash-up today. Next week I’ll resume my regular schedule.

Have a great weekend! Go out and wander 🙂

Kate MacNicol~