Monday, January 18, 2010

October Nature Walk

The lingering snow outside testifies to how woefully outdated these photos are, but here they are anyway. We had an absolutely gorgeous autumn last year. On this particular day we were able to go out as a family and enjoy it.

We stopped now and then to photograph a tree bursting with color.

We went to visit some local elk.

We brought food (yes, it's okay to feed them -- apples and carrots are the foods of choice, and they can really pack them away!). Look at Bethany's smile. She and Zion both really like animals.

Another shot of the lone male we saw.

There was a whole group of ladies though. I think there were some babies too, so some of them might have been male?

One of the plastic bags we brought the food in blew away, and one of the children ran after it, pursuing it along the fence for quite a way before she got to it. This alarmed the elk, who became very alert and stood at attention in case there was some danger. Some started migrating down the fence, so we ran a bit more to see if we could get them to run and follow us, but they figured out it was a false alarm and went back to ignoring anything but the food pretty soon.

I didn't look up any websites about elk, but we did read about them not too long ago in The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess. That's not a book I recommend without reservation (I edited it), but it served its purpose. The children have enjoyed it and I felt it was suitable enough for our purposes with revision. I'll try to review it later.

It's interesting that when you look at one individual leaf, you can see all its imperfections -- the places where the color didn't turn out so nice, the holes the insects ate in it, a slight lopsidedness. When you start looking, you discover it's rare to find a leaf that looks even close to perfect. Yet when you see them all together on the tree from a distance, the imperfections are forgotten. As a whole, it makes something beautiful. Every leaf went together to make that beauty, even if by itself it wasn't something quite so impressive. Isn't that how the people of God are? God takes a bunch of people who lack and fall short, and makes something lovely -- His glorious church, made up of many members, each contributing his or her part.

Also, this autumn beauty is revealed by a process of death. Do you suppose that the trees lost their leaves even in the garden of Eden? Was it God's plan for this part of the tree to die each year no matter what, or is this something that only happened at some point after death entered the world? If Eden had remained, would mankind never have enjoyed this beauty (not to imply they would have been missing out, being in Eden and all, ha)? But we see this beauty God gives even in death, which can serve as a reminder to us that as we ourselves grow older and more frail, it's a time when our true colors are revealed more clearly, and if we've been drinking deeply from the fountain of spiritual life, we can be a creation of spiritual beauty.

Walking an autumn path through God's creation is good for thought. Maybe not quite as good for it when traveled with five junior adventurers, all but one carrying a baggie in which to gather their 'treasures.' But what is lost in thought (or is that lost out of thought?) is made up in liveliness.

I thought oh yes, I'll look up what that is. Nope. Not yet. Pretty though. Putting it here like this will make it unfinished business nagging at my unconscious mind, and I'll have to get up at 3 am some morning and come look it up. Or not. Never can tell with flowers. :)

Liveliness personified. ;) Quite a bit of cuteness too. Dig the hat. She does. Or did. She dug it and another out of the dress-up clothes and has been wearing one or the other frequently for I don't know how long now -- probably since around this time. I think she somehow managed to see?

As soon as I saw the hedge apples I knew at least one of them would want to collect one, and I should probably mention that they were off limits (I know, no fun, but I have an aversion to sticky things). I got distracted, and at least two of them were already gathering them by the time I noticed and got around to mentioning it. This is Exhibit A. Love that look of concentration as she's trying to get it in the bag. :) They were disappointed that they didn't get to explore the virtues of those incredible sticky balls. Ah well, nothing a few hours of hauling them to the creek in a wheelbarrow wouldn't cure, I'm sure. Worked for me, ha.

This wood is only partially yellow and there's only one path, but it still makes me think of Robert Frost and The Road Not Taken.

We stopped to do some sketching. John went on down the path with Liberty and took photos (I think many of the ones in this post he took). Here's a sneak one of me he got. And Tirzah on the path.

Girls at work on nature drawings.

Peter found a desk!

Intent on his own drawing.

I had the camera on the walk back.

Bethany carried Liberty a little way. Aw! She's getting so big! Well, both of them are, but I was speaking of Bethany. It's truly hard to believe she'll be ten next month, Lord willing.

Some more manicured color we encountered in our drive home.


What happened to all the 'treasures' the children gathered? Except for the handfuls of gravel that Tirzah collected and the fungus that Peter scored, I put most of them between sheets of waxed paper, and then pretty much forgot about them! We haven't done ANYTHING else with them yet! :-P


  1. What a fun post! I love the pictures, the narrative, and most of all, the ruminations! I love that thought regarding the individual imperfections of the parts of a tree, yet the beautiful and effective whole of the parts.

    Also love Peter's desk! :)

    Looking forward to the Burgess Animal book review--we read his bird book and enjoyed it.

  2. What fun! I think I'd like Fall better if it weren't a constant reminder of impending cold weather. I did very much enjoy your post though!

    GASP, Bethany is nearly 10! She looks like she does a great job of being the biggest sister.

    I have a strong dislike for hedge balls myself. It's the sticky milk that gets me too. However, Blake came home from Papa and Ma's house this Fall with a whole bag he'd gathered from under their hedge tree, declaring that if we put them in the basement they'd keep away the spiders (Ma says this is accurate). I haven't seen any spiders down there yet. Of course, I do usually seek them out.

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