Jon grabbed his sketch journal and asked his favorite question. “What do you want me to sketch, Momma?” I usually answer Butterflies, Rainbows, Tulips and Hearts, as those are his least favorite things to pencil out – and he comes up with an Ocean scene or a River frontage. But it was Friday – a day that we focus on our Nature Walks – and we were inside, as the rain pounded the windows and the wind whipped up the lake into waves that crashed the dock. “Squirrels.” I said. I asked if I could pull a few field guides for him to reference, and he agreed. He curled up on the futon by the computer and talked about the shape of the circle for the leg, the triangles for the ears, the ovals of the body and head, he fluffed out the tail, re-placed the ear and the eye. While I read a few blogs, and smiled at his side.
Normally – the whole intent of Nature Study is to see the object in its habitat. For the Squirrel – we have become acquainted with him more than we would like this winter. We have a family that chose the large tree outside of our front window – constantly chewing on the Sitka Spruce cones that drop to the earth. We have piles of the leftovers in heaps. Huge Forest. Tree in front of our house. Where the Dog can have heart failure watching from the inside. (rolls eyes) We have been watching them all winter long, as we come and go – so I asked Jon if I could read a few of the passages about Squirrels to see if we could learn something we didn’t already know from observations.
Nathan joined us as I read passages aloud from the North American Wildlife book and the Passionate Slugs and Hollywood Frogs backyard guide. We were humming along when Jon asked, “What does that mean?” “Whata whatdoes what mean”? I ask him with my best vocabulary. Speculated. What does Speculated mean? We send Nate on a dictionary search on his Ipod Touch and continue reading. “What does that mean?” “Which word?” (I’m catching on now)
Amanita. It is a mushroom – which is considered Poisonous, but the Squirrels have been known to eat them. He wants to know what they look like – so he pulls out his Ipod Touch and does a search on Safari for Amanita – and quickly pulls up a photo of the mushroom that is abundantly known to us here in the Northwest. He sketches it out quickly and runs for a red marker.
We continue in the Handbook of Nature Study book by Anna Botsford Comstock – she has quite a few poems, stories, and observational facts for us to ponder on our rainy afternoon. I was joyful when I read her tip, just before the outdoor observation questions –
Page 236 – Lesson 57, The Red Squirrel or Chickaree – “Much should be done with the supplementary reading, as there are many interesting squirrel stories illustrating its habits.” She even includes her observational story on pages 237 and 238 for a reader to enjoy. What a perfect day – stretched out in front of a window, reading about
these loud scratching annoying pests, God’s Creatures great and small. (If not for the known fact that they were driving our pooch crazy on purpose, I would have LOVED observing them from a different tree. ANY OTHER TREE on the entire property would have been preferred.)
What? Speculated you ask? Did you define it in your mind for Jon as he asked? Nathan came up with “Engage in a course of reasoning” as the best fit. Which is exciting. As the “facts” that were in the field guide that started with the words Speculated – were in our newest purchased field guide. There are still so many un sure habits and forms of nature – that the Naturalists and Scientists are still speculating to be true. If we- all- Observe, sketch, photograph, record – our findings – maybe the word Speculated – could be changed to the words – Known, Recorded, Discovered. Will you join us on this quest?
Here is the best way to jump in – as easy as an afternoon in the rain coloring!
2011 Winter Series
OHC #9 and
Winter Wednesday #9 –
Mammals in Winter Nature Study