Monday, May 13, 2013

Experience This

Years ago John and I began a spring tradition of hunting for birds' nests. We have a window around early March when the birds are nesting, but the trees are still bare. Nests are easy to spot. In fact, they're everywhere once you start looking for them.

A week or two ago, John came running in the house with a half a speckled egg. It was beautiful and unique and somehow disappeared.

Last Tuesday, John came running in the house with a nearly intact egg. What a find! I carefully put it on a table and told John we'd put it in a box so that he could bring it in for Show and Tell. 

Ainsley smashed it to bits.

I think I was more upset than John. We went in search of another egg or a nest. We found an abandoned nest or two, but no eggs.

This morning I jumped out of the car in front of a neighbor's house. Right there in front of me sat half a Robin's egg. I picked it up and put it carefully in the car. I peered through a nearby bush and saw a nest and a beak!

So cool!

As we were leaving the atrium this afternoon, I told John I had a surprise for him. He climbed in the van and slammed his hand down on what he thought was a rubber ball but turned out to be -- yep! -- the Robin's egg. 


I grabbed a step-ladder and headed over to the site of the nest. And there we saw this:

I heard a bird squawking. Mama Bird, worm in mouth, sat on a nearby roof, clearly miffed at our proximity to her chicks. As we walked away, we spotted a second adult bird off to the left.  Maybe that was Daddy Bird.

Later we headed out to a nearby swamp because, darn it!, I was determined to find another bird's egg.

Here's the tricky part of raising a family with a large age gap: What thrills the little people bores the big ones to tears. I was chatting with a friend whose family has long enjoyed hikes through the same swap we frequent. Her older set is less than enthused these days. Around here, I say, "Let's hike through the swamp," and I might as well say, "Let's go to Target to buy underwear and school uniforms."

Cue groaning, eye rolling, and sudden onset of intestinal woes.

Tim was complaining about a hand injury that was serious enough I began to worry about the $50 bucks I had just plunked down for swim team. I gave him a pass. Kolbe, I impressed into participation. So off we went -- two excited little people, one resigned older brother.

We headed down the Cottontail Trail -- the shortest one, as Kolbe so helpfully pointed out -- and  came upon a mass of Honeysuckle, a patch of wild raspberries, and a turtle.

"Wait, Mama!" John yelled. "We've got to experience this."

He plopped down on the walkway and pulled off his backpack. We've been reading The Magic Treehouse series, and John clearly finds  young Jack inspiring. Like his hero, John pulled out a notebook and recorded his experiences - raspberry (spelled razberri) and turtle (spelled trdle).

Ainsley insisted we stop at the next observation site as she once spotted a pink pacie in the muck and mire and that obviously brings back nostalgic memories for her. Alas, we found no pacie, but we did spot a LARGE Water Moccasin. To my absolute credit, I didn't freak out. This is one fear I refuse to pass on to my children. I showed the snake to John and Ainsley (and maintained a death grip on both of them). The downside of the swamp is that the rails on the elevated paths have slats that must have 18 inch gaps. I'm forever worried Ainsley will topple into snake infested waters.

John dutifully wrote snake (kinda looks like shake) in his notebook.

Next my little explorer caught a yellow and brown striped lizard. Trouble was, we had no way to contain Mr. Lizard. Ainsley wasn't volunteering her neon pink Papagallo purse to do the job. John hung onto Mr. Lizard until it dropped its tail and scurried away  The tail landed on the path and contorted for about ten minutes.

Nature. Just amazing.

We ran by Sonic on the way home and talked about all our finds. Kolbe grudgingly admitted it was sorta, kinda, maybe fun. Even Tim laughed when we told him about John's antics and enthusiasm.

We've got to experience this.

Age five in all its wonder.

I love it.

(Cari at Clan Donaldson is hosting Theme Thursday, and this week's theme is animals. We don't do animals -- we even killed off our last fish not so very long ago -- so I thought I'd skip this week. But, hey, birds! So we're linking! And head over to Cari's where I have learned a lot about photography and family life).


Anonymous said...

That's a great quote to hang on to in almost all situations: experience this!

Hats off to you for staying calm when confronted with a big snake. And for working hard to encourage your children to interact with the wild, natural world. That's such a gift to them.

Kelly Dolin said...

We viewed the snake from the safety of an elevated walkway. I really would freak if I confronted a water moccasin on the ground!