Category Archives: Nature

A Walk in the Woods

Sunday had a plan, but that was put out of its short, miserable life by my son’s 5:20 AM wake-up call. I stumbled downstairs with him, got him his breakfast, and slumped over on the couch. Usually, he finishes his food and heads off to the playroom for some solitary play. Today, however, he needed to check in every five minutes or so, and this lead to a tortuous half waking and half sleeping several hours until I tapped out and had my wife take over at 8:00. This was earlier than she had wanted to get up, so we were both grumbly about the day. Our plan to go to a community event around 10:00 seemed still reachable, but my wife decided not to wake me. She then headed off to get some work done after I woke up, and I was left with a sunny, warmish day to figure out. After I had a very late breakfast, we packed a picnic lunch and drove to a nearby park that is big enough to hike but conveniently right next to the highway. It is certainly not the wilderness, but there are trees, moss, boulders, and all the trappings of nature. The kids loved the hike and the picnic. 

We had fun looking for white blazes on trees and rocks so that we would stay on the trail.

Where we stopped to have lunch.

A small pond with ice on the bottom.

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Herd Letterboxing

A view from the observation tower at the parking lot where we started our walk.

The Boston Area JCC Metro North held an event today in which twenty families with young children took a walk in a nature preserve and sought a letterbox. The nature of letterboxing, however, is a little more solitary, so while it was fun to be out with friends and to meet new friends on a beautiful day in nature, the actual letterboxing part of the activity was anticlimactic. A herd of kids converged on the area, and the thrill of finding it was somewhat diminished by the time we got to the box. It did spur me to do more walks in nature with the kids, and letterboxing, as a longtime friend of mine encouraged me a while ago to do, is a wonderful way to focus the kids on an objective for the walk. We will take the notebooks we started, the stamps we received at the start, and make a letterboxing kit to throw in our bag when we step out on an adventure.

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Long Cycles

Today’s Pick Your Own

Recently, perhaps even today, a friend from my past and with whom I worked on computers posted this amazing composite of a year’s worth of days at 10 second intervals. It is simple, and yet one can find quite a lot to think about when watching it. This montage collects a year’s worth of cycles into one frame, and in doing so it cause me to have a small, FB, connection with a part of my life that has in its own way come back to me now that I am working as a educational technologist.

This blog is now close to bridging two years of daily posts, and in it I find other cycles that evolve as the kids get older. Today, we went to the farm, and this weekly cycle, as long as the earth is pushing out produce, is a great grounding in the natural rhythms around us. We see the slow change of vegetables cross our path from picking in the field to eating at home. The same cannot be felt in a grocery store with all of the other, out-of-season, non-local produce mixed in. At the farm, the kids and I get a real sense of what the ground where we stand feels like pushing out. Year by year, this symphony gets a little more clear, and in its complexity becomes more beautiful.

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Beach Day, Again

Thursday rolled around, and we went to the beach, again. This time, it was a beautiful small cove near a friend’s house where my writing group was meeting. I got a chance to hang out and talk a bit and then spend time with my kids at the shore. They reveled in the smooth stones, soft sand, and many shells. There were the usual types of shells complemented by crab and horseshoe crab shells. The crab shells transitioned from gold to a deep maroon. Each child spent time in the water, and both eventually went deeper than their bellybutton.

On the drive home, my son took an hour nap, and the kids were zonked that evening.

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Wandering: Flowers and Paper

As my son exerts his sleep pattern on the household, one consequence is a slightly later bedtime. In the evening on Wednesday, I took the kids for a walk before dinner to get some fresh air, to see the flowers that are bursting from every direction, and to experience a new art installation at our local library. The fresh and cool air was wonderful after being cooped up all day, and it helps calm the kids and ready them for sleep. The flowers are amazing. We are in the midst of lilacs and wisteria with tulips fading and irises promising a new round of color and smell. We even passed a fragrant bed of roses.

The art this time is a collection of paper cuttings by Violet Byrd. I absolutely love the organic shapes and whimsical names. They remind me of the characters in children’s books. It would be fun to find a way to use these as illustrations in stories, and the stories themselves would flow from the curves of the creatures.

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Toes in the Water

Revere Beach

Sand, shells, and rocks in abundance.

On Monday, my wife took my daughter to her five year checkup and then to school. This gave me the opportunity to take my son on a morning adventure without having to drop off my daughter to school first. We walked to the T and hopped on a succession of trains–red, green, and then blue–until we found ourselves at Revere Beach. Early in the morning, it is pretty empty, and the ocean was out to a very low tide. We took off our shoes and walked across the warm sand to the water’s edge where we laughed as the wavelets washed over our ankles. Revere is a great beach for kids with small waves, a very shallow incline which keeps the water shallow pretty far out, and an abundance of shells, rocks, and seaweed. Sometimes, it is a bit full of trash, but this early in the season it was reasonably clean. We walked just inside the wave’s furthest reach ensuring plenty of toe-covering splashes, and we dropped stones and shells in the butterfly backpack that my son insisted on carrying during this trip. After our walk along the beach, we took trains back to Cambridge to pick up my daughter from preschool and then headed home for lunch and nap. I write this as my son enters his second hour of sleep, and I hope I wore him out enough for a really nice, long nap–for him and for me.

“Toes in water, again?” was my son’s question as we headed away from the beach. You bet toes in the water again.

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A Place of Calm

Thursday, as usual, was a full and hectic day. Between car inspections, food preparation, kid transportation, grocery shopping, and more, my son and I took a walk around a large reservoir. The air is still nippy, but it is warming again from the freezing weather of the last few days. Wavelets lapped the shore, and all my son said repeatedly was, “Water.” As I moved to go on, he said, “No, no, no, water.” So we stayed and watched the sunlight sparkle and listened to the birds singing. In the midst of all the crazy, a slice of nature brings calm.

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