I forgot how much I love walking the beach early in the morning. It was a Saturday, before 7 a.m. The fires from Friday night still had red embers. Just a few pieces of gathered driftwood and I was able to sit with the warmth, watching the seals on the other side of the Siletz River and enjoy the ocean waves to the west.
As I started to walk up the beach – a place that has been stripped clean from ocean high tides and has a vast amount of logs deposited from winter storms – I noticed that there was a lot of shrubbery. I’m only half a cup of coffee into my day and I start to ponder why and how the shrubs would grow in the sand. Did the river bring up a lot of dirt? huh. I won’t mention how long I pondered, but I must have hit the bottom of my coffee cup when I noticed that the growth was on the logs.
They call them Weed Trees. Red Alders. You can see that these are cut off on both ends, and yet, they are still sprouting growth, in the salt water, in the sand, from the log. Incredible. FYI – for you OHC folks – The Red Alder is our year round study tree.
On the lake side – I was downloading baseball photos – and came across 10 or so photos of this little girl. I wasn’t for sure right away what her name was, but I was pretty sure my youngest son took the shots.
I was getting ready to look it up, when he came through and saw the photo. “I took that mom, there are more on your memory card. She looks like a female wood duck. I’ve not seen one on the dock and I knew you’d want to see it.”
I can’t even tell you. The joy that floods my heart with the years of nature study paying off in every day observances. Just this week a family new to the Oregon Coast were discovering low outside zone tide pool finds, and our family could identify each one of their requests. Knowing your neighbors by name, doesn’t only apply to Mr. Smith next door.
So this summer, as you walk and go, challenge yourself, challenge your kids, to practice using first names, latin if you are an over achiever, of the species you encounter. Why was the log sprouting a shrub? Why is that red thing in this tide pool, but usually isn’t? How do you know what it is? Is it male or female?
Say hello to my little friend. He kept staring at me on my beach walk, so I brought him home. Summer Adventure Awaits! Check out the Handbook of Nature Study – This week they are on Insect Wings and Lacewings.