Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fairy Seeds

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more takes a touch of genius- and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
-Albert Einstein
Back to the river for another peek at those fairy seed pods we found yesterday.  

I had seen some when I was running earlier in the day.  I noticed that they were not at all thistle plants.  In fact these plants were at least 4 feet tall and had large leaves with seed pods at the top. The boys and I  found more at the riverside quickly, I took lots of photos and gathered some of the silky seed feathers in the pods to take home and identify them.  

Milkweed!  Showy Milkweed, to be exact!  I'm thrilled.  This is a pefect excuse to begin my butterfly garden.  Milkweed is the egg-laying plant for a Monarch.  I will dry out my seed and then cool them before I plant in the spring.  I'll have to work on the location of my butterfly garden.  Oh, yay!

I believe these are seed pods from an Acacia tree.  Anyone know?  

Really, aren't they dreamy?  

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.  -John Cotton Dana

Linking up to Handbook of Nature Study.

Accidental River Hike (Beware, if you've a timid stomach)

It all started with a sunshiney day and a need to take our doggy for a walk.  We have enclosed baseball fields just 3 blocks away, I freqently take Juneau down to get a good romp in.  He has been jumping our fence in the backyard.  Our neighbors have been gracious in returning him but I'm afraid he's going to get into trouble very soon, so for now he's on a run and in need of outings. 
So I invited Nate for a little walk.  Feeling inspired, after reading Barb's "Weather- Find Out for Yourself","  I grabbed my nature loving-est boy and my camera.

I frequently feel overwhelmed by nature study...another thing on my list to check off.  I know so very little about nature!  But this isn't how it should be!  I should be enjoying this with my kids, not feeling the dread of another task.  Therefore, I was really encouraged yesterday reading Barb's blog post that nature studies begin with getting outside and looking.  Just pointing to and talking about the squirrel dray in the tree (photo above) is where it begins.  

A dray is a squirrel nest.  You can see that a dray differs from a bird nest, it's fully enclosed rather than having the top open, and it has a lot of leaves also, not just twigs and small cozy nest-makings.  
Nate and I counted 5 drays on our walk to the fields.  Counting is good.  

We noted the cirrus clouds overhead.  I'm still learning the cloud types.  Cirrus clouds are high and whispy.  This is a great chart of cloud types.  

When we left the ball fields we decided to meander home along the river.  I love this fence on a neighboring house....each large post is topped with a charming birdhouse:

And then, we found ourselves at the river.  Our neighborhood is protected from the riverside by a 30ish foot levy.  The riverside of the levy provides a wooded area that offers much wildlife, and lots of native trees and plants.  

I stumbled on this little poof of beauty.  I was completely enamored!  What could it be?  I wondered if it was a thistle?  

According to Eli today, the silkiness is matched only by our sweet little kitten.  I held a handful blew, and wished that I knew the name of this precious fairy plant. (More on that!)

Why walk on the paved levy trail when you can walk riverside?  Happy boy, happy doggy.

If there are rocks...they'll get turned over!  

...and then, the boy's discovery.  Salmon.  We are on the Columbia River, the salmon swim up each year to spawn and then die.  It's very common for us to find them on the shores.   It's kind of sad, but we talk a lot about the life cycle of Salmon.  It's fascinating how far they come to perform their instinctive mating and egg laying, where they came from.  For these salmon, this was about a 330 mile swim.

I took this photo with my foot in for scale.  It measured about 4.5 of my foot.  About 40 inches.  

Nate counted 7 salmon and couldn't wait to get back to the house to tell of his discoveries.  

We also found some tracks.  :)  Seagulls, or duck?  There are a lot of ducks around right now.  We'll have to sneak down and get some photos of those soon too!

I'm realizing the best way for this family to study nature is just to step out the door and open our eyes, ask questions.  I have so very much to learn but finding little things here and there make me ask questions.  I look it up, then I can share the information and inspiration with my boys.  I am convinced that our (adults') enthusiasm and interest will draw our kiddos in more than any text book or assignment would.  

Autumn River Walk and the Nine Year Old; Grand and Small

I find it more and more difficult to get out and about these days, but I'm never ever sorry once we do it.  Grab my camera, some hot tea, our nature sketch books and three boys and we're off!  This is the record of an early-November hike.

 One usually looks for a place to sit as soon as he can to sketch something....anything.

 Maybe even his tree climbing, grinning from ear to ear brother.
 Can you see it?  The little boy in the tree?  The photo needs to be rotated but I'm unable to do it now.  But that little boy, sprawled out at the tip top of the tree....there he is!

 Or do a little texture-shading.

 And then a little about a boy....

What is a Boy?
author unknown

He's an imp and an angel,
a dreamer, a tease
An explorer of meadows, and a climber of trees.
A runner of errands, and a 
doer of chores.
Who tears up his best trousers, and 
tracks up your floors. 
He's a solemn young man with
some mud on his feet, 
and a daredevil riding his
bike down the street.  
A bundle of question, who 
wants to know "why,"
The world goes around and
the stars fill the sky.
But adventurous, timid, excited
 or quiet,
There's nothing so new that he
won't care to try it.  
Anc just when your temper and
patience wear think,
He'll look up at you with an
innocent grin,
And your heart melts again with 
your real pride and joy,
in that mischievous, wonderful treasure-- your boy!!

This here silly boy turned 10 years old yesterday.  We celebrated with our traditional walk to the local donut shoppe for a breakfast treat.  Then for dinner  I made his favorite crockpot roast-hoagie-sandwiches and ice cream pie for dessert.  We had a lovely day, celebrating the turn of the year.

I think these photos capture, in essence, what the 10th year have been for us.  Ever changing, swinging about, happy then grumpy, excited then sleepy.  I'm looking forward to spending the next year with this growing boy.

 It's good to see, sometimes, how small you are...
 And how much smaller others are.

 We spotted Mr. Great Blue Heron from this little rocky point.

 Eli tried sneaking as close as he could, but Mr. Great Blue flew away.  What a sight!  Majestic and regal.

 Here's to slowing down to take a walk.  Drawing what you see, seeing what you miss when life is busy.  Feeli small, being too silly and laughing at yourself.  Taking a minute to  hold something teensy and see the intricate detail our God painted & etched on something so, so small...

I'll be linking up to The Handbook of Nature Study.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Thankful for collections.  Collections of blue and green.
 Collections of sunlight in November morning windows, collections of favorite things.

Of yummy things....

Of favorite collected things and words that lift.

Collections of sticks and stones, shells and seed pods.
  All in a row.

A little cluster of animals that want to go out....

...and dinosaurs waiting for their turn to get in (the bathtub).

Blues, blacks, grey and a smidge of pink too.

So thankful for papers to grade.  Papers= hours and hours with my boys!

Almost always thankful for little bitty papers that have been cut and collected on the table and on the carpet below.  Very grateful that these boys can clean it up!

And grateful, too for this little stinker-queenie-kitty.  

November Walk

The snow is gone now, but it was such a treat to have a sprinkling for a few days.  Nate and I meandered over to the river for a walk to enjoy the snowy evening.  He was on roller skates, I got to walk briskly to keep up with him.  

The neighbors Japanese Maple still has it's red leaves.  When they drop, it leaves the naked tree standing stark, colorless, in rest.

The riverside Sycamores have lost their covering.  The seed pods remain, ornaments for December to contrast against the grey blue waters.  Ours Sycamores are holding some leaves yet.  They are the last to go.  Our squirrely's are fat, racing up and down the Sycamore trunks stashing the last of my sunflower seeds and munching on frozen gourds.  

Nate still skates; Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall.

The City was covered in grey this day.  Dreary for me, not my favorite.  Since then, things have cleared up.  I'm hoping for a clear-sky winter.  

 I am still keeping my Thankful Journal.  Today I marked my 1,234th entry.

For today:
1234.  A 10-year-old, on his birthday who can hardly contain himself.
1235.  a long holiday weekend, not much to do
1236.  coffee drip
1237.  a heated home
1238.  christmas decor, all joy to these boys!
1239.  friends to share Thanksgiving with