Thursday, March 11, 2010

Walking. Very. Slowly.

I may finally be maturing enough as a parent to allow my three year old to set the pace for our walks. Or maybe it is because my darling friend picks me up every morning at 5:45 so that we can work out together before child duty calls, that I can take a walk later in the day without feeling desperate to call it exercise. Today was the second time this week that I have taken the girls out on a nature walk. We walk very slowly around the block together looking for signs of spring. I told Esther to keep her eyes out for two signs in particular: buds and shoots. On our first walk of this kind, we saw a few buds, no shoots, and then a whole yard full of pine cones, several thousand of which we wanted to gather and take home.

Today we took a different route and found an exciting display of shoots, some really big soft furry buds that we petted gently, and...a sign of spring I hadn't expected... CROCUSES! Yay! The object of passionate collecting today was a yard-full of spikey dried brown ball things that had obviously fallen from the tree above. I did not know what they were or what the tree of their origin was called, so later in the day I tried to look them up. Striking out several times, I finally found a very helpful blog post from a naturalist in Princeton, NJ, who suggests that you identify the trees in your neighborhood by looking at what is on the ground beneath them. And low and behold, there he had a picture of some of the very same little objects that we collected so many of today: the seed ball of an American Sweetgum, affectionately known as a "gumball" or "monkey ball." As it turns out, this is an unusual tree to see in Michigan, because its range does not usually extend this far north. Right here in our very own neighborhood. I feel a new interest in tree identification coming on...

5 comments:

Suzanne said...

You are the best! I've been meaning to take the kids out for two weeks and have been distracted. How wonderful for them. I can remember my folks taking us on nature walks when I wasn't much older than Esther. That was last week, of course....Good job, Mom!

LL said...

How fun! It once took us 45 minutes to walk to the library - 2 blocks from our house. Excruciating! But good for the kids. :-)

Melinda said...

Oh, I miss Esther sooooo much! I wish I could go on some spring walks and help you collect your various tree-dropping treasures.

nicole said...

I am so glad to see you are back blogging again. I enjoy reading your posts so much. They hit home with me, and I appreciate your expressive and honest writing.

Southern Spud said...

Hey, THAT's what's growing in our front yard! ;)

My neighbor said those seed pods make a great sound when you run them over with the lawnmower. I think it might kill our mower blade in the meantime, though! Too bad we don't have a rake yet, eh?