Monday, September 21, 2009

Goodbye summer.

i always have a hard time letting go of the summer. So every year, rather than letting myself wallow in end of summer sadness, i really try to embrace the fall season. This means noticing and appreciating the little things that define the season, the colors, the smells, the stillness. We absorb ourselves in fall leaf crafts, apple recipes and lots of hiking and time spent outdoors.

Today we went out in search of the last of the summer wildflowers, as a way to say 'good bye' to the summer, and welcome the change of season.

The cooler weather made it easy for us to accept that summer is officially over. (although i have not yet let go of the garden. :) ) We took a walk to the bottom of the hill in search of any last monarch caterpillars. We found none, and the milkweek has all gone to seed now. The kids gathered wild asters, knapweed, goldenrod, fleabane, chicory and ox eyed daisies.

Leaves are just beginning to fall and cover the ground, but the woods are not barren yet. There is still much green creating a canopy above us. The sound of birds and life in the forest is still everywhere.

We stopped at the rhododendron grove to climb trees for a bit.

The kids pointed out all the potential fairy homes, toadstools and just really cool looking fungus.

i snapped a few pictures of our favorites. These are the flowers of the fall, appearing everywhere in a variety of colors and shapes.

i believe this is called Turkey tail, but i'm never been good at identifying fungus. Most of them change so much as they grow, and many look similar so i don't really try to identify them.

Many of them appear to be blooming. :)

There were eight or nine of these fabulous toad stools all in line. Sequoia was the first to find them, and Sage wanted to hop scotch over them. We are quite certain the fairies dwell here.

As the weather turns cooler, we will be spending less time outside and more time curled up by the wood stove. As much i look forward to the quiet moments of cuddling, crocheting and reading with a child or two on my lap...i am already missing the butterflies.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day in Greensboro

Over Labor day weekend, my mom was in town visiting and the kids really wanted to take her to the Greensboro Science center. It is not too far from where we live, and the kids always really enjoy it.

The inside science museum has exhibits for all ages, lots of interactive hand on stuff. They have several really fun play areas that encourage imaginative play, and learning activities for kids of all ages.

Outside, in the zoo, they have a farmyard, and discovery center. The zookeeper took out a variety of animals for the kids to touch and interact with.

This one is a bearded dragon.

This Iguana was huge! Sage adored it! The kids also got to pet a ferret, bunny, rat, and ball python. They were encouraged to ask questions, as the keeper explained a bit about each animal.

Outside in the barnyard, the kids both tried their hand at milking.

We all had fun brushing the goats and sheep. Sage gave a kiss to every one.

There are lots of displays through out the zoo, with bits of information about the animals or interactive for the kids. These giants ears show the different ways that ear shapes/size affect sound.

It was a beautiful day to visit, and surprisingly un-crowded for labor day weekend. The Wallaby exhibit was closed, which was disappointing. ..but we were able to see many other animals.

As we were leaving, we noticed what looked like a pond at the back parking lot behind the Science center. So we headed over to see what what was there. We were quite surprised to find a lovely park. It has a large pond, with paddle boats and several different play areas, picnic shelters and hiking trails. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing here, and enjoying the outdoors before heading home.

As we started to head back up the mountain to Virginia, i snapped this shot of Pilot mountain behind us. This has become a familiar landmark on our weekend travels.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Growing more than vegetables.

i am so behind on this blog, you can expect to see a few older blogs come through while i play blog catch up. i actually have 5 or 6 half finished blogs saved in my drafts. So it's just a matter of me sitting down and adding words or pictures. The end of August was very busy for us. Lots of picking, freezing, canning and jam making. Sequoia started back at school, Kenan began a new work project outside the home (wow! what a transition to not have him here all the time), we are still working on house construction and my mother came and visited for several weeks. So although i continued to take pictures everyday, the blogging aspect was somewhat neglected.

Earlier this spring, i posted about our Kid's garden. You can find more ideas about planting a kids garden here.

Sequoia asked for his own garden this year, so we created a space that was about 5x5. i took him to the local garden nursery to pick out some seeds and flowers and gave him a few suggestions on where to plant, but otherwise let him do it himself.

The garden grew and produced extremely well. Here he is standing next to his sugar snaps peas as they began climbing the bamboo tee-pees.

First harvest, he picked enough green beans for dinner. He also picked a couple banana peppers, some chard, lettuce and broccoli. He was very excited, and even more excited to eat some, (not the peppers) of the vegetables that he grew himself.

This little garden produced two more meals worth of beans, at least a pound of sugar snaps, several small heads of broccoli, enough lettuce, cucumbers and yellow pear tomatoes for many salads, and lots of banana peppers. The only things that did not do well were the melons.

While mom was visiting, she helped Sequoia to pull the old plants and weeds, and get his garden ready for fall planting. He was pretty thrilled when we found some purple 'Sequoia' beans at the store, and has planted them in his fall garden along with spinach, lettuce and peas.

Letting kids have their own garden space is a great way to help connect them to nature, give them a deeper appreciation of the earth and where our food comes from, teaches responsibility and patience, and nothing can match the excitement and sense of pride a child has when he picks his first vegetable.