Junior, who's 7, and I have recently re-discovered ice skating. Last year we would skate once around the lovely but crowded town rink, and Junior was done. This year the neighborhood ponds froze over. Completely. I can hardly believe that we can skate for free. On real ice! As someone who grew up in the hot and humid South, I find this to be a little miracle. Thanks, Mother Nature.
What we lack in ice-skating finesse, we make up for in determination. Junior skates as if he'd been shot out of a cannon, but he stays upright, for the most part. For a while, I was thinking that he needed lessons, but what he really needed was a wide-open neighborhood pond and a school friend he wanted to keep up with. His skating grew infinitely better when the chum showed up. I was left to practice my figure-8s.
As we were leaving the pond one day, Junior spotted a large unoccupied wasp nest in a tree, so naturally he had to whack a limb until the thing fell. The nest now sits in one of our cabinets so that the cat does not eat it. Junior has already excavated a mummified larva from it.
Our next nature activity will be to sign up for Cornell's Project FeederWatch, which continues until April 7th. (There's a small fee of $15 to participate.) We have just the book to go with the program—Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song, "featuring audio from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology." Yes, a singing book. It's a neat, coffee-table kind of tome, perfect for the house where there's a wasp nest in the cabinet.
If you'll excuse me now, though, I have to go find my skates.
This post is included in Field Day, a nature carnival (i.e., a roundup of links to blog posts that relate to a nature theme) at By Sun and Candlelight. For some great nature lore, hike over to that blog.
My other nature tip, though more spring-like, is the wonderful Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow, a book of nature poems told in riddles. That book won best poetry book of 2006 honor from the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the gorgeous picture book An Egg Is Quiet, which won the younger readers' nonfiction category (and should have won a Caldecott honor). As the Cybils award web site states, "Don't be surprised if some future master birder cites this book as an early influence."