Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why we need a creek

If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in the water.
- Loren Eisley

So, in all of our musings about what kind of house we might want or where we might want to get some land, the boys and I have held fast to one small prayer request:

“God, wherever you lead us, please give us a good climbing tree.”

Our appeal is pure and simple. We just want to climb. And perch. And gaze at the clouds through the leaves. And daydream. A tree fit to hold a house or fort would be an abundant gift. And two trees in close proximity that would allow for the hanging of a hammock—paradise!

Well, today, the boys and I came up with one more request, if we might be so bold.

“One more thing, God… a creek would be fantastic!”

It started with our visits to various natural areas. The draw to the water was undeniable. And the need to throw things into said water, irresistible. I began to realize that if my boys could just have access to water, they might never ask to watch television again. It has now become one of my requirements for where we settle down.

Today, we tried to satisfy our hunger for a water source by going to the park near my parent’s house. This is the same park where we had our awesome sledding adventures earlier in the year. It’s a wonderful park, with a great playground, lots of open fields, a winding path throughout, and a “creek.” I use the term loosely, since it is mainly a large storm drain that is fed by the surrounding neighborhood’s gutters. But I believe that, originally, there was some natural flowing of water that took place near and around the existing “creek.” To my boys in their current suburban setting, however, it is definitely a creek. And when you climb down among the bushes and rocks and flowing water and block the nearby houses from your view, you can imagine that you our smack dab in the middle of Mark Twain National Forest. That’s what we did this afternoon.

This is what we observed:

*Newly arrived Catbirds drinking from little pools of water

*Large boulders and smaller rocks in the creek bed, chock full of fossils

*A mama squirrel carrying a baby in her mouth in order to relocate her to a new nest

*A Red Tailed Hawk land on a tree just above the above mentioned squirrel nest strategizing how to steal that new baby squirrel (the mama squirrel was able to keep the hawk at bay)

*A daddy cardinal singing his heart out—the boys have now learned his song by heart and can recognize it just by hearing it

*That creek water in the middle of April is very cold—but it is still worth it to “accidentally” slip your foot into the water so that you can just take your shoes off and get wet with abandon

It was a good day.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wetlands for Kids Day

This past weekend John, Grandpa, Aidan, August and I visited the August A. Busch (Yes, Aug-Dog’s namesake!) Memorial Conservation Area to participate in the Wetlands for Kids event, sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Ducks Unlimited (DU). The event aims to “introduce children to various aspects of the natural world.” For us, most of what we saw was not our first introduction, but we could still enjoy ourselves and learn some things along the way. We saw live birds of prey, snakes, frogs, and turtles. We watched retriever dogs demonstrate their fetching abilities and we sampled some delicious fried catfish caught right from a Missouri river. The boys explored a mock beaver lodge and finally (and to the boys great delight), they got to muck around a lakeshore with nets and look for creatures (we netted two little peepers). Just before we left home, I decided to bring their rain boots and an extra pair of pants. It has been so rainy and I figured there was a high probability that mud would be rampant. I didn’t realize that wading on the shore of a lake was a possibility, so when the opportunity presented itself and I whipped out their boots, well, it made me look like the most prepared mom in the world! (What’s the saying… you can fool some of the people some of the time…?!) I was just so glad for the boys that they could just stomp on in to the muddy mess and not be distracted by the damage they were doing to their clothes. Okay, I was glad that I wouldn’t be distracted by the damage they were doing to their clothes!

If you look at Aidan’s head in the picture you’ll notice the free hat he received when registering for his Ducks Unlimited Greenwing membership. He and August both got one and boy, were they excited. I guess we can officially live in the country now since my boys are the proud owners of camouflage hats!

My digital camera

These pictures aren’t recent, they are from our last snowstorm in March but I forgot to post them back then. I wanted to share some of the beautiful photos that my camera enables me, who has no photographic training whatsoever, to take. There are certain buttons I can push and certain angles that I can position myself in that will then, miraculously, cause shots like these limbs covered in ice crystals to emerge. All from my beloved little digital camera that I dropped on the driveway--which popped off the button you must push in order to take pictures—which now requires me to push a toothpick into a teeny exposed hole, where the aforementioned button used to be, simply in order to be able to take a picture. Amazing.

I still want a digital Canon Digital Rebel XT. But that's another story.