Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nature Study at the Beach :: A Series

We've so enjoyed taking week-at-the-coast trips the past few years, but this year with a newborn, it has been easier for us to take day trips to the beach instead.  So that's what we have been doing over the past couple months: twice a week, we've been at the beach, enjoying the sand, the sun--and the many, many nature study opportunities. 

The more often we go, the more attuned we are to the whats and whens of the landscape.

Pelicans flying north high overhead and then come back south low, in a neat line, just inches above the water.
Pods of dolphins passing by, fin tips gracefully peeking over the waves.
Otters fifty yards offshore, floating on their backs, then twirling and diving.
Sea lions bobbing between the surfers.

The amazing becomes familiar.  But with that growing familiarity comes not less interest but more, as I have found to be the case with all of our nature study.  More "friends" to greet each visit.  A deeper awareness of even the littlest changes.  An understanding of which features are season-specific, which are weather-specific, which are time-specific, which are location-specific, and which are just all-around unexpected.

And combined with that familiarity is a lesson the children and I have learned over the past few weeks: the beach is always new.  Of course that too is true about nature in general--our Calendar of Firsts has taught us that!  But at the shore, we see that newness play out day by day.  We'll drive to the same beach, park in the same spot, walk down the same trail, set up in the same spot...and the tide has changed the landscape in some way.  Something new always catches our eye.  The water washes away the castles made yesterday; the seaweed makes new patterns in the sand; the beached crabs have been picked up by the birds, and new ones have taken their place, brought in by the waves of the early morning.

Life on the coast--I could never tire of it.

I'm going to spend some time here and there over the next few weeks sharing some of the nature study opportunities we have had on our recent outings.  I hope you enjoy coming along to the California coast with us!


  1. How blessed you are to live near the ocean! *sigh* Looking forward to seeing more! :)

    1. Your kids are adorable, by the way. :)

    2. Thank you, Catie! I was happy to finally get one with all of them in there! ;)

  2. How wonderful! And you're making me feel nostalgic. I remember going to that beach fairly often when my daughter was just a baby and toddler. I still miss living near the beach, even though it has been 10 years. I love the mountains too of course, and we enjoy the little changes here too... but I would like to be able to spend some time at the beach again. We're talking about a trip to Fort Bragg this fall, which would be wonderful!

    1. We have been enjoying our day trips so much. It is hard for me to get to the beach alone with my babies, so it has been nice having my husband working from home to afford us the flexibility. He's starting a new job on Monday, though, so that will be our last outing for a while. But it was our most wonderful outing yet! I can't wait to share about it here. Anyway, you're right: there is just something really special about the coast. I wish we lived even closer than we do. You know, what you *really* need to do is plan a trip down our way, and we can make a beach day of it!. :)

    2. I'm looking forward to hearing about this latest trip. I hope your husband's new job works out well for him, and I can certainly understand how it could be tough to get to the beach as the sole adult. I think a trip and a beach day sounds like a great idea! My husband and I were talking dates today actually... and we have some ideas. I'll send you an email in the next couple days and we'll see if we can work something out.