The recent rains have been making everything look prettier. Grass is growing, hillsides are green and lush, everything looks vibrant and alive. Streambeds have water in them again.
One day over Christmas break, Claire asked Justin for a “Daddy day,” so I took the boys out for a day of adventure. We packed up some food for ourselves and for the animals and started out at the main barn area of Little Farm. Soren and Ronin fed the animals. It is interesting to watch their different techniques. Soren ran around as fast as he could, peeling off one stalk and then another, and feeding the cows and then the goats and then the sheep and dancing with joy as the animals gobbled them down. He then had no more celery and begged Ronin for some of his and squawked about the unfairness of it all.
Ronin, on the other hand, conserved his celery and used it only sparingly. He had most of his left by the time Soren was done with all of his. He shared a little bit, but I pointed out to Soren that this is the difference between saving and spending. Soren was in a position where he was unhappy, and Ronin hadn’t enjoyed feeding the animals yet but he did have celery left over and could choose to use it or get pleasure out of giving it away. I also showed Soren how there was a lot of celery scattered on the ground outside the pens that the animals had dropped, and he could just as easily pick that up and not have to beg anyone. Crisis averted.
After we fed the animals and had a snack, we walked down the trail to Jewel Lake and took the Pack Rat trail back. It was beautiful. We saw a lot of bubbles rising on the water on the lake’s surface, and watched them for a while before ducks surfaced. There were a lot of different ducks diving under the water, but the only one I remember is “bufflehead” because the name is so interesting.
There were a couple of teenaged girls stuck in the reeds out by the edges the lake. Soren decided to rescue them, so he walked out on a little trail and called out to them. He was very proud of himself for leading them to safety.
We bought a couple of new bandanas at the Little Farm, printed with nature activities and car trip activities. When Soren goes on our walks, I have a really hard time getting anyone to be quiet and look or listen for woodland creatures. I hoped that we could start focusing on being observant, or at least appeal to his ninja side and be quiet and sneaky.
I was very successful at encouraging Soren to be a ninja. He has started telling Justin that he trained at a ninja school and when questioned further, he said that well, maybe it wasn’t a specific school, but he had enough training that he became a ninja because he knew all of the tricks. This wasn’t just because of me, of course. He had ninja predilections prior to this. He loves the jumping out and attacking people bit, but is still not so good at the quiet and sneaky parts.
It made our walk through the woods a little less than peaceful. Soren and Ronin played ninja vs. pirate for a good part of the walk, and had a lot of fun hiding and leaping out at each other.
Soren has been asking for an all-black outfit lately, because he thinks the red is a little too visible. I am just glad he’s been willing to wear the red, since the fleece is cozy on cold and damp days and he can be so hard to keep track of when he wants to run around like crazy.
Ronin, in the meantime, was a little discouraged at how short our walk was and asked if we could go for at least a 5-mile hike next time. He kept prodding me at every trail marker to take the longer way back. I have been walking more and more, but the most I am averaging is about 5-7 miles a day and any more than that is still hard on my feet. Soren is still not up for the long hikes that Ronin likes, mostly because he has a hard time pacing himself.
Even though I can’t deliver the kinds of hikes that Ronin expects from Justin, an all-day hike through the redwoods in areas he’s never seen before, I think it does all of us a lot of good to get out in combinations we don’t normally try. Soren and Ronin had a lot of fun together on our walk, playing together and being adventurous and rough-housing, and it was a little bit of a departure from the Claire-and-Soren caregiving relationship or owner/puppy games that usually happen.
Even when we are just 2 kids and 1 adult, it is almost as easy as it is with 1 kid, now that kids don’t need diapers changed and don’t randomly fall off of things while tottering around. I have more challenges with 3 kids and 2 adults, because I have too many different needs to account for, and too many different people ricocheting around me trying to talk all at once. Often I can zoom after Soren because he seems to be most out-of-control on a regular basis, and I just interject as needed with everyone else, but it does feel like I lose out on valuable 1:1 time with the older kids. I’m also starting to notice how the lack of time for quiet conversation and thoughtfulness is making it so I can only hear about what they want me to know about.
I will leave you with some interesting fungal facts that Soren and I learned recently. We were watching a forestry program online and learned about conks (fungal bodies around trees, which can be shelf-like or round, hard or soft, temporary or long-lasting). These indicate the tree has rot inside. I took the above picture during our walk at Tilden’s Little Farm, and I had always just thought of these as pretty mushrooms, as I think all of the mushrooms around here. We love it when it rains because mushrooms proliferate like crazy. We recently saw someone carrying one of the classic poisonous red toadstools with white dots (Amanita muscaria) out of a public place in fear that some innocent child might be tempted to eat it.
I tried to read up a little bit more about this bracket fungus, or polypore, and found an article about it from one of my favorite local nature magazines:
So maybe the one I photographed wasn’t a T. versicolor, since I didn’t check it out underneath its tail feathers. I still think it’s pretty.