“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.” — Claude Monet
Watching my children — really paying attention to them at play — is one of my greatest joys.
When the Leelanau Conservancy preserved this piece of land, there was talk that these woods overlooking an incredible expanse of Lake Michigan Clay Cliffs was “old growth” forest. Upon closer inspection, stewardship staff determined that the trees don’t quite fit that classification, but as we made our way under their canopy this morning, I still felt like we were walking among giants.
This is perfect weather for taking the school books outside!
We’re filled with such gratitude for this land of lakes we live in.
One of my goals this year is to visit a new place (wild place) at least once a month. We have a habit of going back to the same places over and over again . . . but there are so many incredible natural areas in our county! Kehl Lake Natural Area was magical this afternoon. We walked the two-mile trail loop under ancient hemlock trees and along the edge of this quiet lake tucked away up near the tip of the peninsula.
It is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling. Taking a walk with my three on these autumn mornings when the air is so rich with life letting go. So much growth this year. So much abundance. And then in the fall, we slowly release it all.
p.s. Maybe we shouldn’t have named “her” Earl! Look at “her”! “She” has grown up to be a he!
“I think it makes a huge difference, when you wake in the morning and come out of your house, whether you believe you are walking into dead geographical location, which is used to get to a destination, or whether you are emerging out into a landscape that is just as much, if not more, alive as you, but in a totally different form, and if you go towards it with an open heart and a real, watchful reverence, that you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you.” — John O’Donohue
The house is quiet. I’m looking back at photos from two years ago, searching for images to accompany an article about garlic, when I come upon photos of the bittersweet vine that grows behind our house.
The red berries — each folded inside a pair of orange wings — are vibrant at this time of year. The vines, climbing at least twenty feet up a tree, are unmistakable against the grays and browns of a soggy November day.
We were outside just this morning, cutting some twisted vines to bring inside.
And now I see that we were outside almost exactly two years ago, also cutting a tangle of vines.
So much change in two years. And so much remains the same.
We have just set out on a morning walk, and we’re walking up a snow-covered hill, in the woods behind our house. Ellen is complaining about walking in snow pants. “It’s SO HARD to walk in snow pants!” She is right behind me, dragging her feet in big boots. Her mood begins to creep around me like a fog.
Then, suddenly, she calls out in a completely different tone of voice. “I found a nest! A nest and it still has an egg in it!” She is elated.
This little nest. It turns our walk around. It transforms our morning. What is it about a nest? So intricate. So imperfectly perfect. We wonder about the birds who built it and nestled in it. Were there other eggs? Did they hatch? We look up into the trees. We notice pine needles in the nest and wonder if it came from the white pine tree above us?
The nest fits in the palm of Ellen’s hand. The egg is just a bit bigger than her thumbnail. She and Amabel take turns carrying it carefully, all the way home.
All day long, I think about this nest. It seems to call out to me, from its place on the nature shelf, surrounded by petoskey stones, feathers, and chestnuts. I hold it in my hands. It is so light. It is made of such beautifully simple materials. And it is enough. Enough to be a home for new life.