Nature Expeditions

20140505-DSC_6903 This week the big thing has been “nature walks.”  Each of my three littles wants to go for nature walks, and as far as the girls go, they want individual nature walks–alone with me.  That’s a challenge.  Whoever gets left behind is typically not pleased.  And once the walk is over, in Beatrix’s case, the tears begin because the walk wasn’t long enough and not enough nature was seen.  One evening this week I managed to sneak out by myself for a little while.  When I got home and described what I saw and heard, a bunny hopping across my path, a turkey gobble, Beatrix threw her hands in the air and scolded, “You saw all that nature without us!”

Despite the fact that I have never been one to lug field guides on a walk (I take pictures and look things up later), Silas sees the connection between that particular shelf of books in the house and what he sees outdoors.  I am regularly finding him outside lately, dragging a bag full of field guides behind him.  Sometimes he convinces the girls to carry them for him.

On one walk this week Larkspur told me that there was a particular “picture that I needed to get” and that if I didn’t hurry I would “miss the light.”  She didn’t mention that the walk would involve crossing a creek and climbing a steep slippery leaf covered hill in the woods.  I was wearing the wrong pants (linen trousers–these in fact-fantastic for postpartum body-the state my body will be in forever I suspect), and the wrong shoes (although they actually handled things well).  I started to fall behind and Larkspur yelled over her shoulder that I must not be used to walks anymore.  I replied that this wasn’t a nature walk, but an expedition.  She came back for me and grabbed my hand, a role reversal that didn’t escape my notice.  We reached the top of the hill and I got the shot, at least I tried to.  During that moment as we stood admiring the light filtering through the trees, I heard an odd sound, almost like rain.  We couldn’t figure it out, but wondered if it might be inchworms hitting the forest floor around us.  I’m glad that’s the conclusion that we reached at the time.

We have inchworms and eastern tent caterpillars this year in plague like proportions.  As a child, I collected tent caterpillars and kept them as pets.  Inchworms were a favorite as well.  But this year the inchworms are devouring my plants and trees and I don’t find the tent caterpillars appealing anymore either.  As I stood under one of our big maples today, I heard that sound again, like raindrops hitting the ground all around me.  I paused and listened and realized with a small amount of horror that what I was hearing was caterpillar poop hitting the ground all around me.

I hope you all have a happy weekend and that the only rain that hits you is the clean kind!

(Thank you all so much for your kind words regarding Em Em. We are really missing her.)


  1. What brand of field guides are your favorite? We need to invest in some this summer!

    • It’s hard to name a favorite, I typically buy multiple guides on favorite topics after researching on Amazon. Looking over my shelf though, we do have quite a few Peterson guides.

  2. What an expedition! Caterpillar poop, oh my goodness:) I can only imagine a sense of pride was felt (because that’s how I would feel, I suppose) to have your children lead you into nature, to be excited by the shifting light. How wonderful for everyone, thanks for sharing.

  3. Last three photographs are stellar. Such a lovely family.

    The caterpillar poo story is dreadfully awesome. 🙂

  4. beautiful

  5. Mikaela says:

    I don’t get to hang out with any kids at the moment (too busy for babysitting, none yet of my own!), so I thrive on stories like these. Oh man, children are just so funny. You do such a good job of telling stories; I looked up from my computer and realized I had briefly forgotten where I was. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face today. Here’s to many more “nature walks.”

  6. Really beautiful pictures and I can’t help but envy your surroundings! We live in a desert that, because of irrigation is mostly agricultural, so not much wild unless just brush (which is it’s own beauty, I know). Before that we lived in the Seattle area where of course everything immediately around us was developed. I can’t imagine just being able to pop right outside and go on a walk like yours and I live a little bit vicariously through your pictures!

    Silas is looking so much older, I am sure it’s partly his haircut but also just the effect of time passing; your children are all so adorable. I love Larkspur’s dress – it’s so sweet!

  7. goodness…. that oldest girl of yours sure looks like her mama!

  8. I wish my kids were more of the explorer types. They claim I take them on too long of walks. Go figure!

  9. Absolutely beautiful pics and family time!!! Love it.

  10. What a magical childhood – such a special thing that they are requesting nature walks. This is truly such a wonderful season where nature strews learning opportunities all around us! I’ve never thought of taking nature walks with the kids individually, but am thinking it could be a lovely experience, thanks!

  11. Monique says:

    Hope you have a lovely weekend and enjoy all your children. I cannot believe how much older Silas looks in these pictures. It seems only yesterday he was the babe!! My fave picture is the one of the girls looking up. Thanks for sharing your nature walks with us.

  12. Molly R says:

    I love love love the picture of your hand in Larkspur’s. It’s so striking and beautiful, and evocative of your relationship in that moment.

    Also cracking up about caterpillar poop. We had a starling problem several years ago, and I remember standing in the yard with friends, watching this huge flock of birds flying over the woods. As they came toward us, we heard this pattering sound, which we suddenly realized was the sound of a couple hundred birds dropping poop, and we ran!! Ah, the wonders of nature.

  13. Just beautiful! I’m new to your blog, found you through ravelry, and I’m just loving your words and images!

  14. oh, that is too funny…! 🙂 once I was at the beach and all of a sudden Splat and a bird pooped on me; ewwww!! 🙂
    I loved the narration of that photo shoot 🙂
    I am still thinking of you all and praying about the loss of EmEm.
    Wishing you a peaceful comforting weekend, even if it is a busy one for you all, as if often is it seems. God keep you!!!

  15. Thanks for the well wishes of clean rain 😉 I’ve never heard that sound in the woods before and now I’m going to focus to see if we have them. Love the outings you have with the kids and the naturalists that you are.

  16. lol! caterpillar poop- yikes! it’s raining here this morning and is quite a soothing sound.
    those were all lovely pictures. I loved the one of the girls looking up together. and the dirty hands clasped. we don’t live that close to nature, unfortunately, but my kids do pretend expeditions on the little “trails” in our subdivision which leads to a nice little pond. we’re hoping to find tadpoles in it soon!

  17. I can’t imagine being glad thinking that worms were raining down on me, but it guess in comparison…you’re right. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

    Have a happy weekend!

    PS with worms, and slugs and all kinds of larvae eating plants, isn’t it tempting to just let it all go wild?

  18. These are lovely! I want to be able to photograph as well as you!

  19. Susannah says:

    So sweet. The birds eggs were so beautiful!

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