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Hunting for Owls

Just a quick post tonight.  After dinner, my son had a music lesson with his dad, and my daughter and I went hunting for owls.  She had studied owls at school and knows they are nocturnal, how far they can rotate their heads, and what they hunt.  Most importantly she knows how to make up really wonderful imaginary play as owls.  We geared up with the proper clothes and flashlights.  I started with my fancy ball cap with lights on the brim with my daughter carrying the flashlight but soon I plopped the cap on top of her penguin hat, which fit perfectly, and my larger hands carried the flashlight.  We walked to Baxter Woods which isn’t far by my standards but it’s a bit of a haul for a five-year old.  She marched right along and talked the whole way.  We stopped every now and again to shine the flashlights at trees and search for perched owls.

When we got to the edge of the woods she wanted to walk right in.   I really wanted to tromp right in with her but I let fear and all of those what-ifs slow me down…  Plus I  knew Hans would be furious if I took our daughter into the woods at night.  So I compromised with myself and we went in a ways–to search for owls (just so some of you aren’t worried, I’ll tell you we walked about 50 meters in–far enough to feel like we were in the woods (especially to a five-year old) and yet not really very far.)  We took a minute to stand together, hug, look around, and get quiet.  It was awesome.

It was absolutely one of my favorite walks of the year and certainly the highlight of my week.  Because it’s a challenge to take photos at night, here’s a picture from a few weekends ago of my lovely and powerful daughter.

Getting Out Regularly

It’s been a bit of a rough month.  We’ve been sick a lot and have had major work deadlines, but with the exception of one day–I’ve gone outside for at least a half an hour each day.  I’ve gone outside regularly but haven’t had the time or energy to blog about it.  Here are some of the things I did:

*  Hosted an outdoor play area at my son’s school’s Winter Fest.  I filled spray bottles with colored water and students could paint the snow.  My daughter and son helped me practice in our yard before taking it to the larger audience.

*  I’ve tracked animals on fresh snow.  Here’s one of them.  Anyone know what it is?  These tracks were found in Baxter Woods.

*  Traveled to my aunt and uncle’s house in Eagle Bridge, NY.  Great to reconnect with my family.  One outdoor adventure included some  soccer and basketball with my youngest cousin Seth.  My daughter invented a game: kick a giant ball down the hill for us to run after and try and kick back up the hill–very fun.

I went for a nighttime walk alone and was reminded of how dark it can be away from street lamps.  I’ve got to get away from street lamps more often.

Received a few precious moments of one-on-one time with my beloved Grandmother on a brief walk.

My uncle and cousin took us on a long Gator ride around their farm.  How lovely it was to see the farm and fun to be on the Gators.  My son got to drive the Gator and a tractor.  My daughter got to steer one.  Awesome!

 

 

*  I’ve gone for bike rides and walks.  Rode my bike with my son when he used his hand breaks (instead of dragging his feet) for awhile.  Another sign that they’re both getting so big!

*  At my mom’s house–on our drive home from Eagle Bridge, my kids and I played down by the river.  We poked the water, made boats out of large leaves, threw sticks and rocks in the water, and tromped through the woods like we owned them.

*  I went for one long walk down to Back Cove, got to smell the ocean without getting in a car.  Even though I had already had some outdoor time that day, I really needed some alone time, and getting outside for a long walk was the perfect date with myself.

*  Ran from my house, down to Back Cove, and back.  I want to start running again, but I’m not sure my lower back is very excited about it.

*  Yesterday, still not feeling well from strep throat, I stood outside and watched my kids play and got to talk to a neighbor.

Many of my outings have happened at night, because I just can’t find the time to get outside during the busy work days.  I’ve really become attached to my nighttime walks–it is so quiet and peaceful and I can be more alone in a crowded world.

 

 

Vegan Chocolate Cake

What I’ve been doing:

Monday: Walked to the skating pond alone and skated.  Although I’ve been walking a lot I think I still need to exercise in a way that totally gets me heart rate up more… I also need to do yoga.  Sigh, hard to do it all…

Tuesday: Taught a group of first and second graders about the collection techniques of grey squirrels and red squirrels.  I’ve modified an OBIS (www.outdoorbiology.com) activity called Acorns for these younger students.  After teaching, I walked around the remarkably large schoolyard looking for animals for another activity I’m working on.  Heard a bird I’ve never heard before but it was too far away to identify.

Wed: Made bird feeders out of pinecones with two K classes.  Then went for a walk with them, on a trail (created by older students), to hang their bird feeders along the trail.  Later in the day I hung out in my yard with my kids. My daughter and I looked for birds and didn’t see any… why is it that when I intentionally want to see birds–I don’t see them, but when I am not prepared (binocs are at home) I see (or hear) the most incredible birds?

Thursday: Worked late into the evening until my brain was fried, drove home from my new shared office space, went for a walk, then worked some more.  It was cold but there were very few clouds.  I definitely was watching the clock to see when I was done with my 30 minutes of outdoor time.

Friday: After finishing a major deadline I went for a run around Back Cove.  Well, actually, it was a run/walk.  Bummed I’m not in better shape.  When I finish work today, there’s a cake waiting for me at home.  It’s my first vegan cake.  The frosting is too sweet but other than that it is delicious.  I am really looking forward to sharing it with my kids.

Enjoying Portland–Baxter Woods and Skating at Ludlow Pond

It kind of amazes me that I’m well into the second month of my Everyday Outside journey.  The last week had some seriously lovely outings.  One of my favorite trips was to Baxter Woods, a short walk from my house.

There were places along the way that took my breath away and made me sigh with delight.  I wish I was better able to capture the true beauty of these natural places I visit with photos to share with you and to preserve for later.  I’m not sure I could–even with better skills and a better camera… I think part of the beauty is feeling it, being a part of it, and sharing breath with the trees I’m looking at.  Very few photos are able to take my breath away the way experiencing the beauty first hand can.

Today we walked to a skating pond.  My daughter cried the whole way there.  She sobbed, “I don’t want to skate!” over and over again.  That was fun.  We arrived at the pond and she sat on the snow for awhile, watching, and eventually stopped crying.  She decided to skate.  Once she was on the ice, one of our friends–a six-year-old cutie, shared some tips about skating.  She took his advice and skated without my support for well over an hour.  Of course she fell, but she got up on her own and did this again and again while making progress around the ice.

Thanks to my dear friend Beth for capturing the photo below.  I had a blast skating.  The ice conditions totally reminded me of skating on a bumpy Pawtuckaway Lake after school when in middle school.

Hope you were able to get outside this weekend.  Drop a comment about what you did for fun!  I’d love to hear from you.