Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nature Study "Outing" - Colds, Fall, and Nature Study in the Backyard

We have been sick for the past few weeks and have sorely missed our weekly nature study outings.  Such a disappointment, particularly because this is my favorite time of year to be outdoors.  

I wrote about the first signs of fall in our area way back in August. But here in CA, our fall is always late and slow to come.  It wouldn't say it has been an Indian summer this year, but still--when other parts of the country are at their peak, we are usually just getting started.  

But there's a bit more color in the trees each week.  A few notes from our Calendar of Firsts lately:

:: bradford pear and sweetgum trees are starting to turn
:: walnut trees and sycamores are more yellow-brown than green and have lost half their leaves
:: honey locusts are entirely yellow and almost fallen
:: pistache trees are now a lovely red-orange
:: dove weed and black-eyed susans drying up

And there's even a bit of fall in our own backyard.  The kids happily spent a whole morning last week harvesting samaras and climbing our little maple tree to compare leaves.

(As you can see, we are wimps when it comes to the cold.  All the kids were in coats, hats, and gloves and it was in the high 50s--not exactly frosty!)

And yes, dead flowers are part of fall too.  The agapanthus in our front yard, after being at least partly in bloom since April, has finally given up the last of its heads.  The crepe myrtles are finally gone now also.  And I did (what I assume will be) a final harvest of my little basil plants.  Pesto chicken this week!

I am thankful that even when we're all sick, the kids can get in some "nature study"--even if it's just in our own backyard.

And they have been faithful with their nature journaling as well.  Last week and the week before, in the midst of colds, they continued the pages in our nature journals from our beach vacation.  One week, I pulled out the seashells we collected and the watercolors, and the kids spent a happy hour mimicking the fine colors and shapes with their pencils and brushes.  The week after, we tried to identify all the different kinds of seaweed we found (from that little photo index I included in my last post) and the kids happily drew the common waterbirds of the area from their field guides.  It's not ideal, but it keeps us progressing in our studies.

As for my nature journal...well, I haven't been quite so faithful.  I spent the last six weeks dealing morning all-day sickness, when I was able to do little that couldn't be done while lying on the sofa.  I started a few pages while we were on vacation, but the illness took over, so I didn't get much past a few outlines of birds and the titles for a few pages.  But I'm finally emerging from that haze (thank you, Lord!) and am starting to feel ready to dig back in.  And we have a shipment of art supplies arriving this week (including a new stock of my very favorite illustration pens)--perfect timing.  My goal is to catch up on our beach adventures and then re-start my assignment of one journal page a week along with the children.

So, here's the before: a couple just-begun watercolors and a half-page of notes.

Provided that my body cooperates, I hope to be back with an "after" sometime soon!


  1. You know, I can't remember if I told you congratulations on your pregnancy, so I'll say it now. I'm sure if I have said this already, it is good to hear again, right? :)

    So: congratulations!

    1. Thank you, Brandy! We are all very excited. :)

  2. wow! i'm excited, too! if you told me this already, i was too much in my own haze to have retained that info... so, congratulations!!!

    as you may notice, i'm just now FINALLY getting around to reading/commenting on all the {nsm!} post over the last months (we've been SO busy!!). i'm so encouraged by your nature study posts!!

    amy in peru