the naturalists

Perhaps the boys inspire me with their inquisitiveness, or perhaps it is my curiosity that sparks theirs.  I can’t be sure.  But what I do know, without a doubt, is that being with them gives me the necessary time to pause, the permission to observe.  The rush of a normal day is pointless with these guys.  If something must be planned, its best done in tiny increments; Clothes set out the night before, snacks prepared, shoes lined up.  Otherwise the rush to get out the door is an argument, one in which I typically feel sheepish afterwards and quite disappointed.  But really, we go to dance class on Mondays, we manage to get there in a timely manner and otherwise our schedule is loose, one that can be altered if a potty trip is missed or breakfast seems to drag on or a shoe has gone missing.

Moving even from one part of the yard to another takes cajoling for it seems there is so much to stop and see.  A caterpillar to let perch on your bikes handle bars, a spider belaying himself down a tree, a flower almost in bloom, a hole in a leaf.  These great pauses have truly instilled a great interest in the world around me.  (When they are not driving me completely mad that is.  This has taken some serious effort!  It is a conscious decision to remind myself that we do not have anything more important to do.  This is valuable.) While surely I once possessed such a powerful urge to learn about what lay beneath a brooks surface, or what makes a cricket chirp, it seemed the insistence to find out waned over time and was replaced by mundane thoughts, leaving me in a place where I hardly saw the little critters unless it was to eek at them.  But I have been saved.

In our library box there is an endless stream of books illustrating the world around.  Topics ranging from wildflowers and mushrooms to amphibians and tracking have been well loved.  Miles has earnestly worked in his “nature book”, a monthly record of things he finds interesting outdoors, complete with illustrations.  And Rowan, he is the leader of the mindful pause.  The boy needs blinders if we are trying to get from point a to point b.  But, in the right time and place we welcome his intense curiosity.  And me, I have been attempting to guide their interests, learning right alongside them as much as possible;  Filling up our days with hikes and magnifying glasses, overcoming any hesitations to eek at a particularly creepy or crawly insect, pointing out things as I see them, showing an occasional youtube video, choosing appropriate books…

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Of the books we have checked out, some of our favorites have been Stalking the Wild Asparagus, Peterson’s guide to Medicinal Plants, all of the Crinkleroots Guides and The Amateur Naturalist.  These books have kept us entertained indefinitely, especially on these dewy kind of mornings, where a quiet eye can show you so much.

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It also happens to be a bonus that this mama gets to drink her morning cup with a tiny bit of peace on the side.  It’s a win, win for sure.

3 thoughts on “the naturalists

  1. We have a bug cup at our house. And we have spent many hours catching, observing and releasing. So fun to see and learning through the eyes of my little boy.

  2. SO so good! I have collected “nature study” books through the years and also like the ones that you mentioned. There is always something to be seen. Today it was pollen creamy thick along the edge of our pond, and a pair of catbird parents warning off our cat from the trees.

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