At the beginning of the summer, and thus the beginning of camping season, Rachel told me, “Mommy! The most fun thing about camping is s’mores. And the other most fun thing about camping is that you get to spend ALL DAY OUTSIDE!!!!”
We managed probably…10 separate camping trips, for a total of maybe…18 nights camping this summer. I think. I didn’t keep track. But I did make sure to take lots of pictures of our last camping trip. Our go-to campground at Ft. Abercrombie was closed for the season, so we headed to Buskin River instead.
Flaming yellow cottonwood leaves; dark green spruce needles; crisp blue skies and crisp autumn air! Family, hugs, winter coats, grumbling at mommy’s “just one more try for a picture!” S’mores, dollies, bicycles, and fairy houses. Followed by a chilly hike at Near Island, before home. Now we get to let our trailer hibernate for the winter!
This is our Nature Table for September, complete with St. Michael and the dragon.
We often collect things on our Nature Walks and add them to our Nature Table. Sea glass, spruce cones, sticks, bundles of dried grass, rose hips, leaves, seeds, bark, and interesting rocks (and uninteresting rocks) have all been carefully placed on our display scene at one time or another. Also included in our little tableau are things that I have sewn, crafted, or collected, such as the toadstools, pumpkins, apples, and little figures here. I have also started painting Catholic Saint peg dolls, and put these up to correspond with that saint’s feast day. At the end of every month, I unceremoniously dump the found natural items in the yard and switch out any others that need replaced with the next month’s treasures.
We try to go on a Nature Walk around base (we live on a military installation) at least once per week. It continues to amaze me how much there is to see so close to home! Sometimes we just wander; sometimes we head to a particular little field or copse of trees. Sometimes I have no goal other than to be outside; sometimes I have a specific tree or plant or view I want to show the kids.
The first Nature Walk we ever did was about a year ago, to this same stand of trees. I remember being terrified. Rachel and I walked, and I pushed Allison in the stroller…and there we were. With 45 minutes before we needed to go home. And I thought, “Oh, my goodness. What am I DOING???? What are we going to do for 45 minutes? Stand around and look at tree bark????”
Well, we walked the few steps up into the spruce grove, and the girls had a great time. On later trips, we would bring digging toys and buckets, but for this first visit, we had nothing with us but willingness to explore. The girls swung on the rope swing, and dug in the dirt with sticks, and balanced on the roots, and Rachel climbed the cottonwood tree that guards the entrance. We picked rose hips and pretty grasses.
I’m telling you: I only managed to drag them away with the promise of grilled cheese for lunch.
Not all Nature Walks go that well. Some are just awful–it’s rainy and windy and I had zero patience getting everyone out the door. But most are good, and some are fantastic. It is amazing what there is to see when you have the wondering eyes of a child to guide you.