I know I’m a bit late in the game, but I was pleased to discover The Outdoor Hour last week. I have the book “Handbook of Nature Study,” but it had been sitting on a shelf. We are not new to the idea of nature study however. I have been teaching my children flower names and looking for spider webs, etc. for years. I have fond memories of walking the yard with my Dad, while he checked on all the trees he had planted. He loved to show me the new growth on the pine trees and name the wildflowers that he knew. I used to joke that any tree that was shorter than me was only a stick in the ground. Perhaps this fed his desire to check for growth literally every day. At any rate, he gave me a love for nature and walking around looking for details. Thanks, Dad!
So we got back in the habit this week, and went for a nature hike along one of our property lines. My kids were very excited to go for a walk with mommy, but were a bit skeptical when I told them to try to find something new and special. Holly told me, “Mom, there is no way we are going to find something new. We’ve seen everything out here.” At first, I was tempted to believe her. We have seen these trees, and grass, even the remains from squirrels eating up in the tree. But YHVH is not limited by trees and grass. He gave us some wonderful new things to see.
First, they noticed that the grass and weeds were changing color, just like the leaves on the trees. We found red strawberry leaves, and orange fern. Some seagulls flew overhead. Then, as the kids ran ahead a little, I looked down and saw a rather surprising thing, a piece of birch bark. I didn’t know we had any birch trees. So I showed the kids the unique bark and challenged them to find the tree it came from. A search commenced, and soon we found a lone birch tree that even I couldn’t get my arms around. What a delight, especially since this is one of my favorite trees. We talked about birch bark canoes, and how I used to write notes on the pieces of bark.
We also discovered some lovely green moss on the ground. The kids enjoyed feeling the fuzzy texture. We, of course had to see if we could find some on the trees. We found about three varieties. By the way, moss does not just grow on the north side of trees, as I had always heard. So, if you’re expecting to use moss to get you out of the woods, think again!
Our other very cool discovery was a fallen tree branch that was bigger than the tree it snapped from. It must have come down in our recent nasty wind storm. I was able to nonchalantly point out that the wood turns gray as it is exposed to the weather.
An old bottle, a wayward corn husk, and the always essential pinecones made their way into our collection.