Archive for October, 2010

Friday Photo


Basil and katydid

Basil with a Surprise


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Take it Outside

123 Let’s Go See

Turn off the screens—the television, the computer, the video games. Take time from work, from chores, from the day to day tasks that keep us busy. Adults and children take it outside. Each week I will challenge you to see and hear new things—to hunt the woods for wildflowers, to find shapes in nature, to sit by the waterside and listen for unique sounds. So much to experience out in the world.

1 fern

1 fern

This week’s challenge: Numbers, can you find them? Look for 5 points on a leaf, 3 leaves on a stem, 1 stick poking out of a pond, 2 mushrooms together on 1 stump. Once you start looking for numbers of things you will see them every where. While I was hiking with my kids I noticed 1 shiny leaf, then I saw 2 giant leaves. Aurora was ahead of me on the trail so I called up to her that I was looking for 3’s. She asked me to explain what I was doing. When I did she was hooked, as were the other children. The other parents even started looking for qualifying items. To make the search more challenging, start with 1 of something and work your way up to 5 or even 10. Here’s what we came up with on an afternoon hike in New Hampshire.

2 leaves


3 leaved plant4 leaved plant5 leaved plant


mushroom, mushroom, mushroom

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Friday Photo

Datura moonflower

Datura inoxia commonly know as thorn-apple, downy thorn-apple, Indian-apple, and moonflower. All parts of this flower are toxic, so handle with care.

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meteor NASACan we go outside and looks for shooting stars tonight? This is a question I often hear from Aurora. Two years ago my cousin Shannon visited with us. During that August visit we went outside, laid in the grass and watched for shooting stars, more scientifically know as meteors. We saw many shooting stars that night. It was fun to lie in the cool grass looking up into space. The excitement we all felt when someone called out “I see one”, was electrifying. Aurora was 5 years old on that warm summer night. She was so little and it made such a big impression. I remember another stargazing experience with my son William. More than 10 years ago an historic meteor shower was forecast. The experts said it would be at it’s peak at 4 a.m. Because we lived in an area with lots of light pollution we made a plan to watch the meteor shower from a state park not far from our house. When the alarm clock RANG I thought maybe we won’t go, this is crazy. I fought off the desire to stay in my warm bed and woke up William. Again it was a memorable experience. We felt such a camaraderie and closeness as we looking up at that remarkable sky.

For more information about this coming Meteor Shower and more check out the links below. Happy Stargazing!

Orionids meteor shower

Meteor shower guide for 2010

Astronomy 101

NASA for Kids

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Saving Seeds for Next Spring


Leopard lilly

Aurora's seed saving - Leopard lilly


I have always loved to look at plants. New plants just poking out of the ground in the spring, established plants happily soaking up the summer sun and mature plants getting ready to spread their seeds to the autumn winds. For months I have been watching plants develop seed pods and now I am watching the seeds drop to the ground or take to the air. It is time to stop watching and start collecting. Aurora loves this activity. I showed her the seed pods of one variety of lilly in our garden, a half an hour later Aurora had a bag full of seeds. (If anyone would like some of these seeds let me know.)  I like the idea that I can bridge this fall and next spring with this act. A little bag of spring, with its promise of life and beauty, holding us through the cold winter.


Phlox in October

Phlox in October


The International Seed Saving Institute has great information about seed saving. They have a page called Basic Seed Saving. Check it out.

International Seed Saving Institute

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange


Aurora with Phlox Seeds

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Friday Photo

Monarch on orange zinnia

A tired monarch rest in our garden on a cool fall day.

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CicadaFor the past couple of months my kids have been finding dried up bugs and spiders. They come running into the house will something in their hand and they want to show it to me. Believe it or not, I am happy about this and I encourage it. In my mind, it means they are 1 – outside,    2 – interested in what is going on outside and 3 – tuned in enough to see small dried up things on the ground, in a tree or in the garden. These dried up things—ladybugs, cicadas, grasshoppers, giant mosquitos, worms, spiders, butterflies and more provide us with a good look at their anatomy. A dried up cicada in the hand is worth two high up in a tree. We can get a close look at it without it being too scary and without it flying away. True it won’t be making its distinctive song. But after getting a good look at the one in hand, I will be able to connect it to the loud hum in the trees on a hot summer day.

So if your children come running into the house holding a dried up bug, take a minute to talk about their find. Ask them questions about it, help them wonder about the creature they hold in their hand. And then write to us and share your story.


Entomology for beginners

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