Roosters are still calling “good morning” still hidden for the night in trees and shrubs. Some are very early risers and wander about in the street.
A cloudless sky. I arrive at 7 am wearing a T-shirt and shorts and put down my backpack. A lone kayaker approaches boat dock after an early morning row. One lone boat – 2 men – casting their fishing rods. I see the same woman jogging today. I wonder how many people I will see that come here as walkers, joggers or dog walkers every day? The bridge is quiet so far, with few cyclists or walkers.Read more
I finally acknowledge the passing of summer’s long, warm days when the cool mornings of October arrive. With sunlight and bike rides along the American River that last until 9 pm. Dew covers my car windshield in the morning now. The air is chilled at 645 am. My first Sunday morning on Fair Oaks Bridge, I wore shorts and a t-shirt, warmed quickly by the sun. Today, Friday I wear my denim jacket and slip on a pair of jeans. Yesterday’s morning temperature was 55. Today it is 53. As days grow shorter, and fall blends into winter, morning temperatures will drop further to 45 and then 35 and sometimes the high 20s. I will enjoy these mornings on the bridge before the chill of morning gives me a reason to stay longer at home.
Usually I wake gently as I walk to the bridge, listening to the morning symphony of roosters. Today my morning explodes with deafening sound as I walk down the street as a motorcycle with his radio turned up comes up from behind. I am jarred awake. My morning “fog” instantly evaporates.
Determined fisherman sit in their boats waiting. I have no idea when they arrive. Each morning they are already here. They must come before dawn to catch the salmon as they rise for breakfast. I notice the moon in the sky. During my first Sunday, the moon was full. Today, hardly a week later, the moon is now half visible.Read more
Trees are great friends because they have so many stories to tell and so much to share.
Years ago on a nature hike, a ranger gave us this clever hint for identifying Douglas-fir trees. Their cones look as if mice are hiding inside “digging fir seeds” and their tail is all you can see. While your tree is still outside, become an explorer and learn your tree’s story.
How tall is it? Taller than mom or dad? Can your child reach the top by stretching their arms high?
Can you guess how old it is? Take a close look at the rings on the underside of the trunk. What important events happened since the tree was born?
Who can wrap their arms all the way around it?
Reach inside to the trunk and feel the bark. Is it soft, scratchy, rough? What color is the trunk?
Does the tree have needles or leaves? Are needles sticky, sharp or soft? Short or long? Are they arranged in groups of 2, 3, or even 6 on a branch? Are needles or leaves sturdy or limp?
Does any creature make its home in the tree? How can you tell? Do you see a spider’s web or tiny holes in the bark from a woodpecker’s beak?
If you approach a tree that smells like vanilla or butterscotch, then you are looking at a Ponderosa pine.
Celebrate it! Give it water. Decorate. Take photos. Write its story.
Next times you visit a forest, watch the trees sway in the wind, reach high for the sun and down into the ground to its roots for nourishment.
Explore on your own – what do trees give us besides a shady place to rest?
Going into the woods is more than random play. The woods are the child’s work to create imaginary experiences and understand that the natural world is full of curiosities and wonder, miracles and delight. The wonder of fairies hiding in trees, butterflies drinking nectar and frogs singing in the rushes when they believe no one can hear them, are the seeds of imaginative play. Imagination grows into problem solving skills, so students have capacity to address complex issues and figure them out.
Tell an Origin Story. One of many ways I inspire a child’s imagination is by telling spoken word stories. When I tell The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling to a classroom filled with students, I don’t need to ask what happens next? After listening to the elephant’s encounters with other animals, the children are already held in suspense with fear and anticipation that the crocodile will grab the elephant’s child’s nose.
Meet a Tree. As a guest teacher in a science class, I asked second grade students to “meet a tree.” They sat outdoors and drew a picture of the same tree. Every student drew their picture a little differently, approaching the project from a different perspective. Some drew the tree with birds and other creatures they imagined were there. Other students drew only what they saw. While drawing, I asked questions to get them thinking. Is this tree healthy? How do you know? Why do trees have leaves? Do all trees have leaves? How does a tree take a drink?
Consider the level of student engagement, imagination and excitement as a key measure of learning. Students were recalling prior knowledge, learning with ease, and curious about the spider webs, the insects and the birds they observed in the tree.