Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
No one says it quite like Shakespeare. Happy Valentines day!
Valentines book here.
"Searching for tracks is one of the most exciting things to do in all of nature, for tracks are a direct link to an animal's presence; and you never know beforehand whose track you may discover."
-quote from this favorite book on animal tracking.
I tell my 5yo that we are pretty lucky that it's winter. We can get to know our little woodland animals in a special way that we don't get to in summer. We can be nature detectives and follow their tracks! We can see just where they went and guess what they might have been doing. He loves to find a fresh set and crawl alongside them to see where they lead, pretending to be the animal. Some we commonly see in our woods are deer, coon, squirrel, rabbit, mouse, chicken, cat and dog. The above mentioned book on tracking has sketches of life-sized prints that are incredibly helpful for little ones to recognize, since inches and numbers might not mean much to them yet and a rabbit vs. a squirrel track are deceptively similar.
Mason says that each nature walk should afford one new thing to see and know. I didn't realize the truth in this until I made it a priority to really get to know our own woods better. We try to get out for a walk (however short due to cold temps) each day. It usually involves picking chicken eggs and bringing them the day's kitchen scraps, which they love! We put on all our warm gear, and I bundle up the baby in his tiny boots and an extra blanket. I pull him in his little sled behind me. He loves to lean over the edge and trail his fingerless mitten in the snow as we go along.
Today's new discovery was a perfect set of squirrel prints, 4 front toes and 5 hind toes with even the claws and pads of the feet showing! At 31 degrees with a wintery mix of precipitation coming down on us, and morning church services cancelled due to slippery roads, the woods were calling. We took a glorious early afternoon walk in the fresh air. An untouched blanket of fresh snow dotted with drips from wet branches awaited us. I love a walk on a path with no human footprints yet. It is extra beautiful and refreshing. We (try to) walk slowly and quietly taking note of each little thing we see, at least the first time through.
This photo of the squirrel tracks (above), you might notice, is incredibly similar to last winter's photo (below) of some perfect raccoon prints we came across. What I mean is, the snow is the exact same texture, even the melty drips are visible. I wonder if the temp that day was the same as today? Compare these two to the first photo on this blog entry where the temps were much colder (from my memory) and the snow a much different more powdery texture. Oh, the things you begin to notice when you start paying attention!
After carefully examining, measuring, and identifying the print, we take a look at the track pattern (if we can see more prints.) Then we begin to listen, and look up and around the print for other clues. Today's tracks went around the base of a tree. On one branch some bark was scratched off. When we looked up, we saw nearby, what looked like a squirrel nest high in the tree-tops.
I have SO. MANY. pictures. of prints in the snow around our farm! And each one is pretty to me. One day we saw teeny tiny mouse prints (about the size of a pencil eraser!) with a clear tail print trailing intermittently between the feet. I had never noticed such a thing.
The tracks came out from a hole in the foundation of our old shed. We could tell from the direction the toes pointed that the little critter headed straight over to the drippy water spigot. My husband's footprints were visible around it, as he had filled the chicken waterer earlier that morning. It looked like the mouse got a drink, then walked around the base of the old elm tree (possibly looking for a store of seeds?) and then skittered back to his warm hole. That was another really cold day. It was that experience that got my son really excited to hunt for tracks. He seemed to internalize it, and begin to form a relationship with his newly acquired knowledge of that little critter's habits and personality after this real-life experience. I know some people think mice are disgusting, but I found the whole thing really cool!
Since then, he has started noticing if the tracks we see are fresh or old (if snow has settled in them already.) He looks which direction they are going, and he notices the track pattern (squirrels and mice generally are more square and rabbits more triangular.) It might sound technical, but it really is fascinating to learn the ways we can know and describe God's creation a little better.
Reading this book below also sparked his interest. Have I mentioned how much I love Millecent Selsam's books? There is a newer version of this, but we like the illustrations and order of the text much better in the old one. Look for this cover:
Another book we like on the topic is Tracks and Trailcraft by Ellsworth Jaeger. In Volume 1, I think, I remember Mason mentioning the value of children learning "red indian trail games." This trailcraft book describes some interesting game ideas. I like the illustrations too! I found one bit of Native American history quite fascinating. It's about how fathers used to make/use special animal foot print stamps to teach their little children animal tracking.
"I am recording this so that future generations will also praise the Lord for all He has done." -Psalm 102:18
I am a mama to 2 sweet brothers who aspires to a "thinking love" toward my children.
Take a peek into our journey towards a living education inspired by the writings of Charlotte Mason.
Be sure to leave me a comment if you're inspired!
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