Sunday, November 27, 2011

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.  


Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

Yes, you have it! Perfect outdoor time with your son with plenty to talk about, observe, and then wonder about. Keep it going!

We had lots of dead salmon on our last hike....I will send you a cool photo my son took.

Thanks for sharing your link with the OHC and your important message to nature study loving families.

Zonnah said...

We saw a couple of dead salmon on our walk as well. I did not know that our river had salmon and so when I was gazing in the river it took me by surprise when I saw it.