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Some things are just best left buried

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

A couple in Tennessee got a huge surprise, literally, when contractors digging to construct a pool in their backyard discovered a dinosaur. And not just a little thing -- possibly a triophodon, a distant, and extinct, cousin to the elephant. The fossils they found could be anywhere from 30,000 to 2 million years old.

It makes you wonder what folks years down the road are going to think about us based on what they find in the backyard.

Growing up, we always buried our pets in the backyard -- out behind the barn underneath the pecan trees near the fence that separated our yard from the neighbor's. Marked by crosses made from small rocks or two sticks tied together with string, the final resting place of our dogs, mostly, was a peaceful one.

There were other things buried in our backyard.

The story of the dollhouse was around for years -- the Christmas that our father had so much trouble putting together a plastic dollhouse for my sister that he gave up and buried it in the backyard. I never figured out if it was really true or not, or if it was just one of those family legends that gets passed down through the years, like my brother's pet monkey that climbed the Christmas tree or my sister dropping me on my head.

OK, so that one may be true.

I know for a fact, however, that my brother buried things under the house. I know this because, well, I watched him from afar one day when he thought nobody was looking and then the next day when he wasn't around I crawled under there and took a peek. It wasn't much but a rusty old box filled with loose change and bottle caps and other tiny treasures only a middle school boy could love. I felt bad after I spied, but that's all a part of having a little sister, I suppose, and I'd have hated for him to be begrudged of the complete little sister experience although, to my knowledge, he never found out I dug up his box and looked inside because if he had I would have been in big trouble and probably would have been dropped on my head... again.

When my own children were small we bought hermit crabs at the beach, complete with the little box and rocks and everything required for the perfect hermit crab condo. Unfortunately, they apparently weren't condo kinda crabs because they didn't live much past a month or so once we got them home, despite our rapt attention. We buried them in the backyard underneath the azalea bushes. The kids wanted to keep the hermit crabs' shells to remember them by so with much ceremony we placed them on the shelf in the den.

(Insert creepy, escalating horror music here)

I woke up the next morning to find our hermit crab friends on the back steps staring up at me. I lost my mind for a second and thought they had crawled from their graves in search of their beloved shells, but then I noticed the cat -- whose nickname was aptly "Satan in a Catsuit" -- sitting coyly nearby. Before anybody else woke up, I buried them in a roll of toilet paper in a box in a Piggly Wiggly paper sack in the hobo. RIP.

Needless to say, I never found, or buried, anything quite so interesting as an extinct elephant cousin in the backyard. Seeing as one was found as close as Tennessee, though, it could be possible there's one out there right now. Sad thing is, if I did find an extinct, mammoth, million-year-old creature buried underneath my patio, nobody in my family would believe me.

I was dropped on my head, you know.

Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.