Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Our First Official Nature Hike!

I have been informally attempting to train my boys to be observers of nature for the past year now - in our backyard, on our trips to the ranch, at the beach... I have definitely seen a spark of interest but getting an ADHD kid to stop and really observe, well that's definitely a challenge. ;) It will take extra time and diligence on my part but I am confident the rewards will be worth it. Before all the photos here is yet another quote from Charlotte Mason; this one about the how and why of nature study.

They should be long days spent outside...But suppose we have those long days in the open air, what is to be done with them so that they are pleasant days? There must be a plan, or else it will be all work and no fun for the mother and the children will be bored...They must be left to themselves for a good part of the day to take in their own impressions of nature's beauty. There's nothing worse than children being deprived of every moment to wonder and dream within their own minds because teachers and adults are constantly talking at them, not leaving them a moment's peace. Yet, the mother must not miss this opportunity of being outdoors to train the children to have seeing eyes, hearing ears and seeds of truth deposited into their minds to grow and blossom on their own in the secret chambers of their imaginations.
~Charlotte Mason - Volume 1, Home Education, Modern Translation p. 44
Here are some photos from our first adventure. We went to some trails about four miles from our home. I used to run this gorgeous path when I was training for races but haven't returned in almost a year. It was fun to share this treasure with my boys. We can't wait to go back and collect pictures of all the different wildlife that abound there! On this first trip we didn't see too many birds and critters but it whet our appetite to return soon.

Not a great photo but he's a Common Grackle.

We were glad to finally get a picture of a Northern Cardinal after seeing several that flew away before we could snap a photo!

Took me awhile to figure out this one - a Double-crested Cormorant. Thanks, Amelia! :)

One of a million crawfish/crayfish/crawdaddy holes scattered all over the trails.

Thatcher wanted me to include a photo of this sign on our report! They were so disappointed they didn't get to see an alligator, but me, I've seen plenty (behind fences, thank you very much!) and I was just fine to have not seen one this day. ;) On these very trails, just after Hurricane Rita three years ago my friend, Justin, and I were running and almost stepped on one of these....

A cottonmouth (water moccasin) - the only poisonous water snake in North America. Nice.

Not. ;)

Footprints of an unknown bird in the mud. It will be neat the day we can look and say, "Hey, footprints from a (fill in the blank)!"

Almost at the end of our walk...In the summer we'll be able to jump off the bridge that crosses this area and catch crabs - and NO I will not be cooking them for any of you wondering! ;)

At the end of the trails you come to Galveston Bay. Breathtaking with the morning sun sparkling on the water!

And just to the right of that photo of the bay this is what you see...devastation from Hurricane Ike that struck our area just four months ago. There has been so much progress but there is much rebuilding still to do.

Seagulls feasting on a new beach Hurricane Ike created.

"The three most handsome boys you ever did see playing on the aforementioned beach," said a proud mommy (and just moments before her youngest realized his shoes were dirty and had a complete screaming meltdown when she refused to remove them due to all the sharp shells. Sigh.)

Behind the boys this is what you see...millions of seashells that used to be hidden underwater. They covered an area about 20 feet x 60 feet and were several inches deep. A treasure trove for a kid, to be sure! ;)

At the end of the path, there is a park that overlooks the bay where we stopped to play and read this sign. Beckett doing one of his very favorite things!

And Thatcher behind him searching the bay with binoculars.

"Hey, Mom! Will you take a photo of this oil tanker to put on your blog?"

And then screaming excitedly, "MOM! MOM! Hurry, I've found the Eiffel Tower!!!" To which I responded (trying hard to suppress a giggle) "No sweetie, that would be across the Atlantic Ocean, not the Gulf of Mexico, and it's so far away you couldn't even see it even with binoculars. That's part of an offshore oil rig I believe." Lol! :) :) :) How precious.

And on our way out, evidence of all the unseen deer in the area.

Alas, boys will be boys! They were more excited about seeing this Apache helicopter flying low than any other thing we saw on our hike!

If you made it this far, thanks for sharing our first outdoor adventure. Hopefully many more to come!



Karen said...

Looks like a great time!

I must say, I'm jealous that you can be out nature walking with short sleeves on. We're lucky to get up to freezing these days.

Of course you do have hurricanes to deal with, so I guess I can control my envy. ;)

Mandy said...

Jennefer - We live in the Houston area and I was just thinking I would like to find some places to explore tide pools and other fun areas. All I know is the tourist parts of the beach. If you have time, would you email me and let me know of some of the local areas I could take the kids? Thanks!

I love the fun stuff the boys found on the hike! :)

Cindy said...

You nature hike looks lovely! We took a nature walk for about 10 minutes this week - it was in the 20's with wind chills in the teens. Too cold for me!

Don't worry about a busy boy not wanting to stop and observe. I have a very busy boy who used to (and still does sometimes) spend more time in tree and creeks rather than observing them. He is slowly starting to see the beauty and possibly even notices more than me now!

Brittney said...

Sounds to me like your boys observed a lot! The helicopter, the oil tanker, the Eiffel Tower (totally cute, by the way)! :o) I enjoyed checking out the nature pics too! Especially the cardinal...that is my favorite bird in the whole wide weird and I never seen them anymore. They are not it CA. :o(

Do it yourselfer said...

I really enjoy your blog. I've loved reading about your transition into CM. We lean that way. I'm jealous that your boys are in short sleeves. We just had snow and took our nature walk in the snowy woods. Thanks for this post.

rural momma said...

What a wonderful nature trip!! :0) It is nice to see the sun and the ocean. I live in northern NH with lots of snow and to see the ocean is a little bit of a trip.

Mandy said...

I just wanted to let you know we found the trails and had lots of fun. I'll probably post a few of the pictures soon.
Oh, and in re-reading this post I realized the four-toed footprints you were wondering about are raccoon prints. We saw lots of them on the trail.
Was that beachy area at the end really just created by Ike? Was it all water before?
Thanks for the suggestion!