Our latest round of visitors left us on Monday morning, but we're not even close to slowing down! Mark went right back to work, Ace started teaching English lessons this week, and Little Man is on his summer vacation from school - AND we've got a trip to Germany coming in a few weeks. And while we haven't yet formulated a coherent sentence about our visitors' stay in the Netherlands, I can promise that we'll be up and running normally soon.
In the mean time, Little Man's summer vacation means a whole readjustment of routine and entertainment - which means I'm exercising my creative thinking and coming up with child-friendly projects and local adventures.
Behind my parents' first house in Massachusetts we had a small woods with plenty of trees and rocks to explore; and while I didn't spend a ton of time back there (there were spiders and bees in there and I'm not exactly what you would call "the outdoorsy type") I have a few memories of playing in the woods as kid and thought that would also be fun for Little Man. So, yesterday we packed a lunch and biked over to the local forest preserve to look for squirrels and bugs and trees. While we didn't find any squirrels (compared to the fat grey squirrels of Chicago, these guys are skinny, skittish and scarce), we did find plenty of trees, ferns, and raspberry bushes, as well as some unexpected surprises through the woods.
Walking in the woods is easy - there are many well-worn paths, and the area is a popular place for people to walk their dogs or go for a family "hike."
|A walk in the woods.|
But the woods are maintained in a way that leaves nature well-preserved with some more interesting aspects for the people walking through. The city keeps the paths cleared and the fallen trees out of the way, but there are some instances of interesting reuse of the bits left behind by the forest. We find rough-hewn benches made of fallen trees, and we find bits of art.
|Owl carving on a tree stump.|
|Bees carved on a tree stump|
We even came across what I can only describe as a fallen tree that was replanted upside-down.
|Roots in the air? The ferns seem to like it.|
And, of course, what's a walk in the woods without a bit of science? We got to talk a little ecology while exploring how dead leaves and bugs get turned back into soil for the forest to use. This was/remains a popular topic since Little Man loves some dirt.
|Poking through the leaves to find the layer of new soil underneath.|