Monday, October 22, 2007

Walks


I took this picture as a joke. I actually loathe seeing this overdone style of photoin catalogs and magazines all over the place!
From soil, to seeds, to fruit, this type of photo is everywhere - especially in earthy, organic-type pulications -
and is the only negative thing I have to say aboutMaryJane Butters' book that I posted about yesterday.
Yep, she's got one too. Her hands are holding a green apple!

We hadn't been by the nearby nature trail lately and so we took a walk there on Saturday. I would go there at least once a week if the family was up for it, but they're not always. I always come away feeling "set-right" again after being there.

Let me tell you that this is not a particularly fabulous nature trail. I only mention this, because I want to encourage folks to get out and walk no matter where you are - even if you don't have a nature park nearby. The park is one that is in a nearby subdivision, so while it is more than what we have in our own neighborhood, it is not of county or state park caliber by any means. Part of the "trail" is even paved. That said, it is a mere 3 minute drive from our house or a 20-minute bike ride. Given that the nearest county park is more like a 30 minute drive, this one nearby is gratefully welcome! It makes for a lovely short walk - under an hour - that gets all of our blood moving again and lets us observe the changes going on in the world around us.

While it is wonderful having the park so close by, if we did not have it, we would make do, as we have done for a number of years, with our regular evening walk around our neighborhood. We truly have Lucy, our West Highland terrier, to thank for this. It was of necessity that we began walking every evening with her and we always go as a family. We had taken walks before, of course, but not with the regularity we do now. I doubt we will give it up even after Lucy is no longer with us.

Maia spied this owl atop the Spanish-moss-covered tree just as we were exiting the trail.
Unfortunately, I do not have a zoom lens for my camera!
This amazing bird sat and looked and screeched at us as we took its picture until
a hawk came and dove at it and made it fly away!
Grrr! Bad hawk!

It is common, in homeschool writings, to find nature walks and keeping nature notebooks as suggested portions of one's curriculum and school day. But I would encourage everyone to take walks regularly - daily even - with your family. It is one thing I know we will treasure all our days and I am thankful that it has become something that our family just does.

Some days the girls are on their scooters ahead of us and some days they are on their rollerblades. Some evenings we make a shorter walk with the dog and then all get on our bikes for a cool, evening ride. But mostly we walk.


I heart owls.

Through our walks the girls have learned so much. We have favorite places and nicknames for our various paths. There is the walk ( a shorter one) "down to the bush and back," there is "the smooth way," named for the smooth, cement sidewalks, and there is "Weenie World," a cul de sac around which three homes have dachshunds or "wiener dogs."

We spy birds, including those returning from migrations, as well as the rare and beloved owl and the more regular red-shouldered hawks. We also regularly see bats overhead if we are walking closer to sunset. My children have no fear of them and we love to see them come out for their evening meal of the bugs that just may be the ones that are trying to snack on us!


Here, a (blurry) bee gathers nectar at the flowers of this Brazilian Pepper Berry bush.
These non-native species are considered invasive here in FL and it is evident, because they
really are all over the place! Immigrants brought them here for their beautiful Christmas display.
Birds scatter the seeds widely and the insidious bushes overtake native species.

Because of our walks we see and know our neighbors - next door and at the end of the street and some on the opposite side of our pond's shore. We know and greet the other walking regulars - there are few - really, too few. We see and know our neighbors this way and slowly, every so slowly begin to feel more of a part of this place.


This Brazilian Pepper has already set its berries.
These berries will be a brilliant, bright red by the end of November.
I think I'll come back to collect some to make a wreath.

We see... and we are seen.

One day, over a year ago now, we were in a home-improvement store and a teenage boy was in the aisle with us. After a moment he walked up to us with a big smile on his face and said, "I know you!" For our part, we had never seen the boy. "You guys are great parents!" he said. I see you walking together every night! That's so cool!" And with that, he was off.

What a small and easy thing you can do with your family to build memories and further cement that bond that you have with one another. I don't believe in what society tells me about children as they grow older. I don't believe that teens will want nothing to do with their parents when they reach a certain age. I don't claim that for my truth and I am hopeful that long into the future we will all continue our walks and our bike rides together.


The girls, with neighbor, K (in the blue shirt) play their version of "Pooh Sticks"
(every time we come here) with pinecones, dropping them on the left side
and checking to see who comes out the winner on the right.



There are a few days, now and then, when one or both of the girls will want to finish a game they are playing next door in lieu of our walk. There are days when one of us just doesn't have the energy or isn't feeling well or has the rare appointment somewhere. But most days - nearly every day - you can find us out and about after dinner, enjoying the evening air together, and just walking.

Some pretty, blooming wildflower. I thought for certain my wildflower pamphlet would
have the name of this beauty, but it did not. It reminds me of a snapdragon.
Does anyone know its name?
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