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Get out in Nature whether you feel like it or not!

family nature walk

Hi! I’m the Mean Mom!  Occasionally, anyway, I answer to that title. Today was one of those days.  😉

Outside it was perfect!! Mid-seventy degrees, sunny, and clear! It was a perfect day for a quick stroll in nature.

After lunch we almost always walk down our driveway and hike back up. That’s right. We have our own Cardio Hill, or my exercise route right on the driveway. By the time you get to the top, you’re huffing and puffing. In fact, when we thought about purchasing our property, my husband promised me that this land would whip me into shape! He was not kidding! But, after living here for the past almost six months, I can walk up that hill way easier than I used to be able to. I’m definitely getting stronger, but need more exercise in general.

Hence, our little walk today. We strolled down, then instead of hiking back up the driveway, I challenged the boys to hike back up by way of the wet-weather creek. That’s a bit harder, but not bad for strapping young fellows; it just takes a little longer. And the boys were chomping at the bit to get back!

Enter Mean Mom

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I declared the instructions, amid some groans for my reply. That was not the popular vote. Teens have a tendency to buck at fairly normal activities, if they didn’t think of it themselves. I knew that sometimes we need to step off the beaten path. You never know what you might see, and the thing is, you never know what you’re missing unless you go check things out! Nature is full of surprises. But those treasures so often go unseen.

I determined that my boys would do more than shuffle through this Nature Walk, so I laid out two rules. 1) Each person had to find a flower or something neat. That’s pretty easy since wildflowers are popping out everywhere. 2) Each boy had to find a Little Brown Jug flower, but not one that I showed them.

The second rule got me some groans and complaints that they didn’t know what those were. Then my youngest promptly found and identified a plant. My older two reminded me that he’d gone on a special wildflower walk with me, which is true, so that gave him an advantage.

No problem. I showed them all the Little Brown Jug plant, then asked them to go find their own, knowing that these plants grow in abundance on our land.

A few more mutters about where could they find these…Mean Mom just chuckled.

“Why do you care so much about finding these wildflowers, anyway?”

Wow! The perfect question!

“Because they are a gift from God, and if we don’t look for them, we will miss a gift!” Somehow even though I’ve seen other Little Brown Jug flowers before, I haven’t seen these plants, and that makes them special. Same with the other wildflowers! I cannot explain why these flowers that I’m looking at today are more special than others I’ve seen, but they are. Present reality beats past memories when it comes to Nature.

Yes, each of my boys ended up seeing the flowers I made them find. I don’t mind that they didn’t want to look. I know that someday, they will be hiking with friends, and they’ll stoop down and say, “Hey–have you seen these? Look–Little Brown Jugs!” And they will feel smart because they can positively identify these unassuming little flowers.

squawroot, nature walk
Squawroot

Nature Learning is fun!

And the bonus for me, besides my boys gaining an understanding of some nature nuggets, was that because we were out tromping through the woods, I stumbled across a hiding Pink Lady’s Slipper, about to bloom!  I was super excited about this, as they don’t grow just anywhere!

The bottom line is just to get out into Nature regularly.  Make it a part of your homeschool day, even if you have to be a bit of a Mean Mom to make it happen. You never know what treasures await your discovering eyes!   The flowers bloom in their own little corners whether we go out to find them or not!  But our lives are blessed and our hearts are encouraged when we uncover God’s hidden treasures out in Nature.

Get out and explore!  

For other creative ways to turn your homeschool day around if it’s gone sour, please see my post about Reseting your Homeschool Day  I hope you will be blessed by it!

And to compare what Nature Treasures we were finding last year at this time, please check out this post on my Lessons&Lessons wordpress site.  Maybe I’ll get all of those posts brought over here eventually!  It’s Called Trillium and Other Surprises I particularly enjoy going down Memory Lane to compare the past year’s wildflowers!

Pink Lady's Slipper on nature walk
Pink Lady’s Slipper

Pink Lady's Slipper shoot
Pink Lady’s Slipper shoot

Dwarf Crested Iris
Dwarf Crested Iris

Little Brown Jug flowers on nature walk
Little Brown Jug flowers

Little Brown Jug flowers and leaves
Little Brown Jug flowers and leaves

Wood Betony flower
Wood Betony

Wild geranium flower
Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium, nature walk
Wild Geranium

Dwarf Crested Iris
Dwarf Crested Iris–Ridge Haven’s first bloom!

Dwarf Crested iris
Dwarf Crested Iris

dog with moss on nature walk
Babes with her new wig

I find this book on Flower Identification to be our favorite for identifying most of the flowers in our area, since we live in Tennessee. He has the plants listed by counties observed, which is a help. It’s the book I reach for first. Wildflowers of Tennessee, by Jack Carman. My husband picked up this book a few years ago at Wilderness Wildlife Week, and spoke with the author for quite awhile. At that time, I wasn’t so much into wildflowers. Now that I’ve discovered the fun of finding beautiful flowers out in nature, I very much appreciate our signed copy of this book. This man has put in countless hours to compile all of the information inside. (By the way, if you can make it to Wilderness Wildlife Week, which is a FREE event for the whole family, GO! It’s great for homeschoolers! Maybe I’ll see you there!

 

The only downside to the Wildflowers of Tennessee book is that the plants are not organized by color, but by family. This is fine in many cases, but sometimes you just find a yellow flower, and you don’t know what family to look under. That’s where I reach for my Audobon Wildflowers Field Guide. I have to say, that the organization by color helps me tremendously! So, I can’t say which book is really my favorite, because I like them both a lot!

There are a lot more helpful field guides our there, and I have several that I’ve used. I like the ones specific to each region where you live, because they often list bloom times on which trails, etc. For our region, I have used the Great Smoky Mountains Wildflowers–when and where to find them, and find it to be very useful, because they list bloom times in order of what comes out first, next, etc, and on which trail. This can help you if you live close-by, because you can compare what is blooming in the GSMNP and then start looking in your neighborhood. I find that our property runs around one or two weeks behind the bloom times, for some reason. Maybe because of all of our shade. Either way, it’s helpful for comparing what wildflowers are blooming in the region. I don’t own this book, but have referenced it several times.

The last book, Wildflowers of the Smokies, deserves mentioned. I was recently given this book, and I like it. It also is arranged by color, which is helpful, and lists locations within GSMNP where you may find the flowers. This is a pocket-sized book, to take along!

What treasures are you finding out in Nature?  What books do you like the best in your wildflower hunts?

Please make a comment below and let me know!  Sharing is fun!

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