Nature Walk: Do It NOW

Hi friends, it’s been awhile. I’ve been focused on my other blog a bit too much lately and have been hoarding material to use there instead of posting it here. Or I have an idea but the opportunity passes before I get around to it. Or maybe I’m to a point where I want to shift the focus of my blog again (since I said almost nothing about my garden this year).

Despite the struggles, I wanted to pop in and write about a recent experience that brought me joy.

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A few nights ago, the kids joined me for a walk around the neighborhood. They picked up leaves and sticks, and the walk went on for a lot longer than intended, at a lot slower pace. It was getting dark and bedtime-ish, and I was a bit irritated at the constant stopping and starting. I told them we were not on a nature walk and to giddy-up. They didn’t miss a beat and immediately asked when I would take them on a real nature walk. A plan was born. And we got home before the sun slipped below the horizon. Barely.

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It was an unusually hot Sunday in October (97 degrees, but it was a dry heat). We went to Lindenwood Park and started exploring down by the  Red River. The kids packed backpacks with notebooks, pens, tape, magnifying glasses and water bottles. Hillary brought her camera to take pictures of things she couldn’t fit into her notebook.

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The scenery is beautiful this deep into fall. Everything is changing colors, dying, or seeding out. We found quite a few species of weeds at the river’s edge, and the girls picked samples for their notebooks. We touched them, smelled them, crumbled seed pods, picked leaves and counted ladybugs. We tickled each other with some kind of feather grass. We climbed out onto stumps in the river and immediately climbed back onto land after determining it was too scary. We sat in the shade, the girls leaning on me taping specimens in their notebooks, talking about a maple tree with three shades of leaves on it at the same time.

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We took the footpath into the trees and brush up next to the river and found more treasures in there: giant oak and maple leaves, some kind of wild rhubarb, sticks (little boys love sticks), huge trees with interesting bark, fallen trees, weeds galore, and of course grasshoppers and ladybugs.

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Eventually, the kids would tire out and we made our way back across the park. Along the way, we picked colored leaves off the low branches of trees. The coloring of each leaf was amazing, varying slightly from tree to tree. The kids enjoyed comparing the leaf shapes and colors, looking at them with their magnifying glasses to see the veins and subtle color differences. By the end of the day, Maris could even identify a maple tree.

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All that to say, if you have a chance to take a nature walk this fall or any other time of the year, do it. Life moves more slowly when the kids are stooped over a flower or watching a ladybug crawl up their arm. The only distraction is another flower a little farther up the path or a leaf floating downstream.

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It is not lost on me that I only have this small window with my kids in an ever-changing world with an increasing amount of distractions, so when the chance to take a nature walk comes along, I’m going to take it every single time. I hope that they are learning while we are out walking, but I really only want to have them all to myself for just a little while.

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