Observing nature in winter

A few weeks ago on a cold day, the kids and I walked around our yard to get some fresh air and see what was happening there during the winter.  As we walked, we heard the very loud sound of geese flying overhead.  Myself and all three kids immediately turned toward the sky to watch the geese.

This was a great opportunity to practice using our senses to investigate nature.  We had already used hearing and seeing and I challenged the kids to try to use the other three.  My five year old said he could smell the air and that it smelled fresh.  The kids picked up sticks, Hickory Nuts and leaves and felt their textures.

Hickory Nuts

Feeling Hickory Nuts

Taste was a little harder to experience in the middle of winter, but we noticed the bushes that bear the currants my husband and son munch on in the summer were bare.  So we were thinking about their bitter taste and looking forward to spring!

We walked on the path in our backyard where we spend many summer evenings counting Praying Mantises.  We were excited when we spotted a Praying Mantis egg sack at the start of the path.  After finding the first one, the kids were determined to locate more and they were motivated to observe nature more closely.  We found 14 sacks in all!

Spotting a Praying Mantis egg sack

Praying Mantis Egg Sack

Praying Mantis Egg Sack

Praying Mantis Egg Sack

Praying Mantis Egg Sack in tree

This experience showed the kids how important it is to be observant when you are in nature.  We could easily have walked right by these if we had not already been focused on observing closely with our senses.  We also spotted a bird nest in a tree and made comparisons between the path in winter and the path in summer.

bird nest in a tree

Bird nest in a tree

I had been reluctant to go out on this chilly evening.  I didn’t feel like dealing with the mud and the cold and the tissues for the runny noses, but I am really glad we did.  It was a reminder that there will be baby birds chirping for food from their nests on warm spring mornings.   A reminder that there will be warm, sour currants to taste as the sun warms our faces.  A reminder that those egg sacks will hatch and the inhabitants will be what we count on summer evenings when the air is warm and sticky and the grass is cool beneath our bare feet.  It was a reminder that if you are willing to look for it, there is beauty in winter and that living through it makes summer nights all the more sweet.

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