Will and I have started going on nature walks. Started as in this morning I said, "Let's go on a nature walk for science today!" That's what you do that when you look at the Chemistry experiment book you've been using and realize you forgot to buy the balloons you needed for that day's lesson. Fortunately we have access to 90 acres of woods and creeks and a river so there truly is much science to be learned just by going out on a nature walk. I'm ashamed of myself for not appreciating this blessing and using it more than I do. More than I do could mean going at least once every 3 months. Or every 6 months.
I decided to leave my camera behind and focus on Will and our walk so we left with only a small backpack and an old point-and-shoot camera bag to collect things in. I used to do this with Caelan nearly every day when he was little and I can't believe I've let myself miss out on making those memories with Will as well.
We were walking down the rocky trail about 1/4 mile from our house when Will said, "Moooommmm! Didn't you see that snake you just stepped over?!"
I hadn't. I looked down and there on all the dry dirt and brown rocks was a very slender, bright-green snake that was about 2 1/2 feet long. And I had stepped right over it. In spite of my history of encounters with snakes (my boys still laugh about this one) I tried to catch this little green snake. I was going to put it in the back pack so we could take it home and Will could identify it. But he has such a tender heart for animals he wouldn't have any part of it. He kept begging me to leave it alone, asking how I'd like to be put in a back pack. I told him I didn't have my camera to take a picture of it or I wouldn't be trying to catch it. He took off running back to the house yelling that he was going to get my camera.
In the meantime, the snake slithered up into a juniper tree where it was eye level with me while I waited on Will to return.
It all turned out better than bringing it home. Will stopped being upset, the snake didn't get traumatized, and I got this photo. If you're interested in being included in our science lesson, it's a rough green snake.
I decided shortly after starting our walk that we were going to collect leaves. Caelan could identify any tree by it's leaf or it's bark when he was Will's age. It was a neat thing to watch him flipping through field guides looking for pictures of the leaves in his pile. I had no idea how much information a child's mind could absorb and retain but he still remembers what he learned. I think there's so much to be said about putting real things in the hands of children (when you can) instead of just showing them pictures.
Will wasn't so thrilled at the idea of a leaf collection when we started but as I stopped and pointed out leaves on the ground and made him pick out the prettiest ones, the leaves with the best colors and the fewest blemishes, his interest grew. Pretty soon he was asking me to take photos of different things for him.
He thought this plant was interesting. I don't remember ever seeing it before and we haven't identified it yet.
When we got to the creek, I found this group of different leaves floating in the water. I liked the contrast of the colors.
While Caelan's brain immediately recognized a mulberry leaf when he saw the photo, the photographer part of my brain recognized great pattern and texture in these leaf miner trails.
Will liked this lone, tiny red leaf on the mossy rock. I'm praying that I have a budding photographer. His eye for a good photo made me proud.
On our way back home, Will found this sycamore leaf that was bigger than his head and decided he really likes leaf collecting now. We decided that every Friday, science is going to be in the form of a nature walk.