Monday, December 1, 2008

Devil's Marble Yard

Terrific Thanksgiving weekend here at the funky farm we’re still trying to come up with a name for. Sam built us an outdoor fire and we sat around trying out monikers. “Four Sycamores” would honor our huge creek-side beauties. “Cedar Springs” would give a nod to our evergreen brethren and the many springs and seeps, nearly a dozen that trickle under and sometimes out of this place. I suggested “Hairball Lane” as tribute to our many pets and things got sillier from there: “Crazed Rooster Knoll,” for mean ‘ol Steve Martin, “Rabbit Heath,” in recognition of our pal Rex. So we’re still working on this.

On Thanksgiving Day, Sam and I made a bridge from a little island in the creek to the marshy side we rarely go, where he now “claims” territory by whacking away the dried stems of the plants that are too thick to walk through in summer. We put down stones as pillars and laid a piece of old oak fencing across them. It wobbles a little when you walk across, but so do all bridges to playland.

Elliot and I made a wreath from clippings we could find, not only the green of white pine and cedar but boxwood and yew too, and then some red in the form of bittersweet and the berries from plant I forget (but should know), and finally some thistle and pine cones. We found a few feathers too, a cardinal and maybe a mockingbird—those went in as well.

We also hiked to Devil’s Marbleyard (a hike with an interesting name). It’s a family tradition to take to the mountains rather than the malls around Thanksgiving. We took some other kids with us this year to share in the fun. They hiked fast and together, leaving my wife and I in the back to enjoy the quiet. The day was warm and bright and we spotted a six-inch brook trout in the stream. When we got to base of the marble yard, chaos and noise reigned, as if Mr. Lucifer himself let loose on the scene.

Some kids immediately wanted to scale the massive boulders to the top, while some were more tentative and wanted a hand stepping from rock to massive rock. One boy decided to stay on the trail. If he was trying to get away from the shouts and noise, he choose the right path. But after a few minutes we heard no sound from him, and he did not return our shouts over the rock field. We began to get nervous. I lept up the rocks as fast as I could. Still no sign or sound. I went farther up the trail, which now split away from the rock field. Then I re-traced his steps, worried I’d find him lying beneath some steep rock face. Still no boy. I imagined calling the Forest Service for rescue. Imagined calling his mother with the bad news. So I dropped my pack and ran back up the trail, past where I had been before. There was a teary-eyed boy, afraid he had gotten lost in the woods, walking back down. We don’t know exactly how it happened: I guess I should have made sure he know that the rocks were our destination. And he by now knows not to leave the group on such hikes. I think he was wary of the rocks and thought the only way to be “one of the kids” was to hike to the top by way of the trail, but the trail left the rocks, headed off for another ridge.

Once he calmed down, he asked about bird sounds. Apparently, one bird was making a “beep beep” sound and this seemed to haunt him with his situation: alone and frightened. And then, at a happy reunion over lunch on the rocks, one of the girls did a tumble and nearly landed on her skull. And at the bottom of the hike, Elliot and her two friends walked off the blue-blazed trail onto a horse trail. Lagging behind, my wife and I heard their shouts. What’s funny here is that this hike borders a juvenile correctional facility, so they nearly wandered into protective custody. “Oh, come to join our institution, have we girls?”

What kind of bird was it? No doubt a demon one. The devil’s own. This is a great hike, but if we go again, we will be by ourselves.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Family Camping, Ears Burning

Got a nice mention in a nice looking magazine I didn't know (but am glad to know) existed, Family Camping: "where Louv looks at the problems, Van Noy offers solutions."

My ears were burning cause of Sierra too (page 12 people tell me), perhaps this page of "Get Out, Kids." Funny how we can't tell the electric world from the print, ain't it?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Walnut Dreams

The walnuts have mostly all fallen. They drop from a high perch and clang our metal roof, then slowly roll into the gutter--if it’s clean, or the husk a slow roller--or will bounce right off if the gutter is full (which it probably is) or the nut has started high enough on the roof to gather speed and jump to the ground with a heavy thud, and then roll some more.

There they lie. Unlike leaves, which you can walk through and kick up, walnuts, especially when hidden under leaves, roll. From our garden, which is slightly uphill from the house, I have thought about trying to skate downhill, like I was cargo. It is nearly impossible to walk when the ground beneath you moves.

I’ve enlisted the kids for help in picking up walnuts. They load them in the bucket, or the wagon, and cart them off to a pile underneath another grove off of walnut trees, which really seem to like our property, as does another “black” hardwood, locust. They have found other uses for the walnuts too: throw them at the rooster when he gets frisky, line them up on the driveway and smack them with a hockey stick.

We have cracked open a few too. First we peeled off the inky outer covering, cleared away the worms (nearly all have worms), then washed the inside and put them out on an old screen to dry. Then, smash them with a small hammer and pick out the yummy meat—probably more caloric expenditure then net gain, but fun nevertheless. Really, they had the most fun whacking them with the small sledge.

I had some tree guys come and clear away some of the walnut limbs (we have three trees close to the house) that lean over the roof precipitously. Then Sam and I cut up some of the wood and split it, naming our enemies with each slam of the maul. JOHN McCAIN split log in half. SARAH PALIN cut half in quarters.

Now the walnuts have fallen and the election is over. We joked that we would hoard our walnuts in case the apocalypse came. But now it seems like some weight has been lifted, that what was falling our roof and waking us from our dreams is all past. Our sleep is more restful even though the ground is still littered and we have much work to do. But we are nearly done with nuts. Snow will be the next thing to fall. Soon after that, everything will start moving up again.

Monday, October 13, 2008

From the folks in NJ . . .

The folks in NJ have my back. A Natural Sense of Wonder is the "micro" to Louv's "macro" (I think that's a compliment):

Friday, September 26, 2008

Virginia Naturally

I gave a keynote talk recently at the Virginia Environmental Education Conference. I talked some about the book, what led to writing it, and Carson's sense of wonder: what I take it to mean for environmental education. Carson said it was "as important to know as to feel," and I explained how what I wanted to do was not so much to engage in a sociological explanation, but to transport readers to a specific time and place, an experience, through narrative, so they might be inspired to seek their own journeys, to get their own feet wet, in a sense (I read from "Creek Walking.") Rather than screed, I wanted to give readers story.

After reading from "Field Guides," and Sam's comment, "I want to get a map of this place," I had this to say:
The sense of wonder is the starting place for that map. Carson would encourage us to play in order to develop the emotional foundation, the health and creative energy, that further learning must build on, and that she thought was necessary for later vitality and joy. Most of us had an experience like this, and that’s why we got into the field we did. I meant for my own book to be as much a prompt to adults about incorporating a sense of wonder and playfulness in their own lives as a guide about taking children outdoors.

The other day, while hiking with a friend in the Grayson Highlands, we started discussing “Yahoo” moments (before we had computer browsers), those exclamations of pure joy and what our word was: was it Yeehaa? Yahoo? Whoopee? Do they use the same words in China? And when do these moments happen—when was the last time one happened to us? We concluded that, for us at least, they often happen on mountains, especially running or skiing down one. I describe one moment like this in the essay, “Seven Days,” about hiking to and around Mount Rogers.

One of the things that environmental educators know is that these moments are also often unexpected, spontaneous, they are uncharted and off the map, or the lesson plan. There may be no standardized outcome, as when I took my son’s second grade class out for a walk along the creek and reached down below a platform to grab the containers of salamanders and crayfish I caught that morning and behold, a black rat snake. Everyone remained calm—they thought that was part of the display. “Oh look, he brought a snake.” In an ideal learning environment, the best lessons, there are many points of arrival, in some cases taking the form of a snake, but also many points of departure.

The lesson changed somewhat that day to learning about snakes, and our response. What a sense of wonder most certainly is not is a fear, because fear might have caused someone to go after the snake with shoe or shovel, as they do where I live. I often see fear associated with the New River, where kids have asked if there are water moccasins or crabs or toe-eating bass. Fear turns us away, and is something we have to work to overcome: through education but also what we model: our own enthusiasm and sense of wonder.

The phrase I’ve been thinking a lot about recently in the Carson quote I first read is “sterile preoccupations”—things we get absorbed in without life, things leading to self-importance, or self-absorption. The sense of wonder is an antidote to the view that nature exists only for human means. The ultimate goal of it is that it might impel us to act respectfully toward the world, to give us the understanding that there is worth in these creatures or land or trees or bodies of water beyond human purposes. At the same time, it continually recharges us—it reboots our fire. It gives us the pliancy and vibrancy to fight battles, or sit through long meetings. In Carson’s career, it was the essay she wrote, the crucial bridge, from the scientific observations she made the sea books, to the call to action of Silent Spring.
The phrase it "reboots our fire" came from the story I began with: had the kids out to camp one night before school, and as the fire was dying, the embers fading, she said we needed to "reboot the fire." That same night, one of the campers asked if he could go back to the house to relieve himself. I suggested he go around the corner, and he looked at me like such a thing just isn't done. So I thought of a title for a book: Last Child to Pee in the Woods.

They laughed. Met many fine people there, like Director Ann Regn, doing "EE" for a long time, passionate and committed, and glad to see their issue getting such national attention. Maybe some of them will comment here.

More on one of the folks I met in the next post.

Mud Fun

My son and I completed the "Mud Run" last weekend, which ends in a crawl through a mud pit, grit in teeth and slime on skin, to get to the finish line. No kicking please. Our favorite part about the course, however, was really the rest of it: the wind sweeping through the field and then wade through some 75 yards of the (cold) Roanoke River, then up over the single-track mountain and through a creek, jump logs and down the hill, small mud pit a tease before bigger finale. 'This is great," he kept telling me, adrenaline-charged, running in a pack: "I'm tellin' everyone about it for next year." So perhaps we will be back, to run in mud.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Elliot’s Photographic Scavenger Hunt

Went out to see the Perseids last night. Set the alarm for 2:00 and took blankets out to the grass behind the corn crib, now Steve Martin's (the family rooster's) home. It's not like we lived in the big city before, but we certainly have a much better view of the stars out here. We laid on our backs and watched silvery flashes race through the infinite black. My wife has often made it out for this, and last night I finally got my bottom up.

Technology gets blamed for a supposed "nature deficit disorder," but technology can also get kids out. Two examples: we bought a new bird book that plays songs and calls of Eastern birds. On our trip to Maine, Sam had yellow warblers flocking to the shrubs nearby. He had a robin fly right at him the other day, checking to see about this intruder (he also had Steve Martin come at him when he imitated a rooster's call).

Example #2: my daughter is in much right now with a broken wrist (bad fall from rope swing). Yesterday I sent her on a photographic scavenger hunt. I wanted a picture of a preying mantis (we've seen a lot), a spider that lives near here that we don't know and have never seen before, part arachnid and part triceratops, and any other insect or bird life. She didn't get the preying mantis. But here's what she did came back with (sorry--gonna be easier if I take you to another webpage--and this in a post about the benefits of technology):

That is supposed to be the spider.

Some kind of butterfly. (Hey, photography not yet our strong suit).

Ebony jewelwing. (Yeah. Hard to see I know. Deal with it).

Our very own indigo bunting, very upset by some hummingbirds, ruby throated, we think.


Bee on thistle.


Yellow jacket on apple.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Soccer Coach / English Teacher

Found another kindred spirit in the blogosphere: another parent trying to get his kids outside. He's also a soccer coach so maybe he can help. And as a fellow English teacher: he wonders why he stresses the "disinction between a tercet and a quatrain when they know nothing about tanagers and cardinals." I hear ya loud and clear Clark.

Soccer Parent

My son is attending soccer camp this week in our annual, early-August heat. I watched him finish from the little shade provided by the aluminum bleachers. After it was over, he told me nothing of the drills they did, skills they worked on, or the games they played, but, as this field overlooks the New River (and the only place to find shade on the banks that once provided no shade—another story), he told me that he saw five or six rises in the stretch of river between the Dedmon Center field at Radford University and the little island across from it. Though his feet were tired, he wanted to know if we could put canoe in and maybe “troll the ledges on the other side.” As of yet, he’s still not too much of a soccer player, but he does like to fish.

I played when I was young and loved when all eleven players came together. I liked to run and I guess I had excess energy to burn. Played up until and into college. But, I don’t much like this soccer culture anymore. Sam played on a travel team last year and I saw some benefits: the discipline of practice, the listening to your coach, the working with your teammates. But our team, though talented and made of 10 year-olds, wasn’t always the best of sports (and our parents came in last in the sportsmanship ratings). And for some people, soccer seems like their whole life.

But there we were at camp this morning, with the other soccer moms and dads, dropping off kids in specialty soccer flip flops, the kind with nubbins to message your feet (it is so not cool to wear your cleats until the very last minute). Why do we--collective we--do it (by it, I mean the practices and camps, the travel to games)? There are benefits of exercise, yes—soccer is a very aerobic sport. But why specialize so much? Would his summer days be better filled with the kind of camp where they play outdoor camps, canoe and kayak, swing on rope swings? Can somewhat smarter than me help? Is there a sociological explanation? Is it bragging rights? Part of our economic system? Playing soccer provides some kind of economic capital. That can’t be it—you can’t make money in soccer in the US, but it seems symbolic of something. The suburban parents dropping off kids, in their Suburbans, are mostly doing alright economically.

Balance. I guess that’s what I’m after when it comes to these organized sports. A little soccer here. Some baseball there. Maybe a game of tennis. Or Frisbee. A good hike. Lots of walks on the new place. And tomorrow, after soccer, we’ll see what kind of small-mouthed bass are lurking beneath the rock ledges beyond the pitch. Wonder what will be more exhilarating, offer more reward: the ball in the back of the net, or fish at the bottom of one?

Postscript: caught a beautiful bass on the first cast of the day. It jumped out of the water to throw the hook, but Sam kept him on. A beautiful fish too: golden yellow, a little green, hard brown spots in a stripe up the side, hard lower lip to grab and take the hook out, and to kiss upon release. So there’s a question for readers. Do you kiss your fish?

Monday, August 4, 2008

The One That (Almost) Got Away

Haven't put much up lately. This picture sort of shows the reason. We moved. To readers who are familiar with the book, the "one that got away" came available again, and then we made an offer that they accepted, and after that our house sold (in the first day), and it was hard to stop this ball once she started rolling. But here we are, and though the chore list is long, the boxes still unpacked, I can step outside off the upstairs porch in this picture and watch the sun set on some 10 acres, watch great blue heron in the creek that flows through, see our two dogs play (it's a great place to be a dog), or listen to the newest member of the family, a rooster named Steve Martin. Our feet had gotten nearly cold right around the move, but I think the place is growing on us, and we're glad we're here.
This weekend we went to a nursery down the street, now closed for the season (we didn't know), and they practically gave us what was left: a few pepper plants, some annuals, but also a gingko and a pear tree. Elliot has always wanted a flower garden and the woman who runs the place was so pleased to hear that the plants would be going in the ground rather than shriveling up in their plastic containers that she kept piling them on. Good neighbors. Childress Garden Center (not the kind of place to have a website, or I'd link it).
Tomorrow night, 8/5: speaking at the Radford Public Library at 7.
A blogger, Nels, reviewing the book for something, commented that NSW would "make a good pair with Kingsolver."
In other news, will be giving a keynote at the Virginia Environmental Education Conference, September 17.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Georgia Books and Water

I think I found a kindrid spirit, or at least an ideal reader. We have a few things in common: he also raises two kids, likes to fish, has a disdain for weed eaters, and has spent time in Slovenia.

"Finally, I also liked the fact that, though the author explores the more complex issues of kids in nature, his essays are all firmly grounded in the reality of actually having and raising kids." Amen Eddie Suttles.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Big Picture Window

Rachel Carson saw the big picture, saw that if you killed all the bugs, there wouldn’t be any birds, nor any other forms of life. We’ve just spent a week in Maine, at her summer cottage on rural Southport Island, looking out the very big window she often sat near. We have views of a few pines directly outside and then the Sheepscot River beyond and the forested island on the other side.

This morning it is calm, smooth surface, but last night the wind swept through and we watched silvery waves reflect the sun going down over the island. It would be beautiful here even were it not Rachel’s cottage: we’ve seen lady’s slippers and bunchberry, osprey and eider ducks, and the kids have spent most of their time in the surrounding woods or down on the rocky beach, especially in the tide pools. That it is Rachel’s cottage adds something more, a particular a reverence, a gratitude maybe for what is here. Her presence surrounds us, not only in the handwriting we saw on the door, the growth chart, but in every walk through the woods and along the “edge of the sea.” So we speak in hushed tones.

The cottage is rustic, exactly as it should be. The place could probably be a national heritage site, but its quiet charm would be ruined. And it is quiet--except for the wind and the gentle sweep of the tides, this place is absolutely quiet and serene. Besides, no tourist busses would fit on these narrow streets. It’s cool too. I now know what so many made the trip to Maine in summer. Before air conditioning, this was where you could sleep at night. It was here that Carson went after Silent Spring came out and she wanted a respite from the media coverage and attacks by chemical companies (“What does she know about future generations? She’s a spinster.”) A perfect place to rest. Simple, without distraction, with a big picture window looking out onto what matters.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Get Out and Play

Here's an article from The Princeton Packet on the book and an upcoming reading at Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed, Thursday June 26, 7:30.

One thing about the article: I don't know for sure if fewer kids are swimming in the river as I don't live there anymore. I was mainly commenting to the reporter (and in the essay "Swimming Holes") about the differences between that Delaware culture and the one I experience at home on the New, but perhaps both have changed some. Fewer swimmers in both places.

Since this came out near my hometown, I heard from an old teacher: "It's always fun for me to answer the retired educator question, 'What ever happen to ...?' Another mystery solved!"

Father's Day -- The Right Tools

WVTF, local NPR station, featured this essay for Father's Day. Listen.

My father was a busy person during the week, busy at some office he commuted to before I woke up. On the weekends, he was also busy, still up before dawn but working at home. If you wanted to be around him, you joined him outside, working on projects, doing chores. If we had to mow, I clipped around the light pole and mailbox. If we to had to plant a tree or shrub, I scraped out the rocks between shovels full of dirt. The weekend often held at least one big job: the shed a new roof, the dock a new paintjob, the riverbank a new wall.

We lived on the Delaware, and to keep the bank from washing away, one summer my dad decided to build a retaining wall. We would use discarded railroad ties, washed up on shore. In a little boat with an outboard engine, I scouted nearby islands for square, black logs. If they weren’t too drenched or decayed, we towed our catch home. Trip after trip, we found so many ties we had enough for our bank and those of a few friends.

We often had help from the neighbors, from the Millers or his friend Bill, or any passersby. We pounded in metal posts to keep the ties back, then spiked them together and put in the perpendiculars, the deadmen, to hold in the earth. There was much talk during the process, much discussion of strategy and design (or lack thereof), and much ribbing and needling, “here, hold this while I whack it with the sledge.”

Sometimes I was allowed a thump on the nail head, though it didn’t disappear into the wood much, nor go in very straight. I performed other valuable tasks like remove debris or run errands. These led to me staring at the pegboard behind the workbench in confusion and comments like this back at the site: “Those are vise grips. I said channel locks.”

We’re known as a nation of do-it-yourselfers, but we were do-it-togetherers. Of course, the job of the right-hand-man is never glamorous: holding things in position, handing over (the wrong) tools, answering “yes” to the eternal question: “does this look straight?” He did the fun stuff, boring holes with the drill, hacking limbs with the chain saw. I once vowed to let my son have full artistic expression with my power tools, but he’s not allowed to have any fun either.

But I learned much on those projects, learned how things fit together and how to work as one, built relationships with people rather than with the screen. There were physical benefits too, always moving and carrying things, running for tools and then back again for the right ones. And sometimes I simply lost interest in the project and wandered along river’s edge, found treasures in the drift pile, or built my own walls out of stones. I caught minnows or crayfish to be contained in my rock pier and discovered the joy found in the natural world.

These days, with my wife at work full-time, I’m often more valuable inside, more cook and cleaner than handyman. But if I gained any flare at fixin’ things, at building walls or even catching crayfish, I owe it to those weekends following around dad.

Which is where I’ll be this father’s day. Outside. On that river. And I hope my kids will be there with me, getting me something I (and they) really need. Getting out. Building something together and with the right tools.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pink Slippers, Black Racers, and Red-eyed Singers

Saw one of these exquisite beauties on the trail up to Dragon's Tooth the other day. Also saw a black racer. When I moved it with my hiking stick, it coiled and rattled a little, mimicking something more harmful (who knew?). We only made it to the spur where the Forest Service meets the AT, but we marked this one for another day. Would be a good hike to do in spring--good for wildflowers. Loved the sound of wind through the trees and the red-eyed vireo: "here I am, where are you."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gore Tex Country

New book got a mention in an article in The Bulletin, from Bend, Oregon.

And, here's an excerpt in Scholastic Parent and Child, "Into the Wild."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

One of the first reviews is in . . .

And it's positive.

Also, the book made Scholastic Instructor's "Best for Teachers." Michelle Schafer, one of our favorite teachers, told me so:

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

The bicycle is a marvel of human engineering and efficiency. A human on a bicycle can go farther on a unit of energy than any train or truck, car or canoe. A person on a bike, per calorie of food, can outlast a horse running, a fish swimming, and a bird flying.

Worldwide, there are more bicycles than cars, almost two to one. Bicycles do not pollute or alter the climate. They require only a hearty serving of carbohydrates, not fossil fuels, but they do not require that we increase the amount of pavement in our landscapes.

But there are things a bicycle cannot do: it cannot protect you from the elements, for example, nor can it protect you from cars. This fact hit home recently in the community of Radford when one of our most committed and recognizable cyclists, Forest “Fess” Green, was struck by a car entering Bisset Park. Fess enjoyed bicycling so much he wrote a book about riding the Wilderness Road and biked to Radford University, where he taught, every day he could.

Friday, May 16 is bike-to-work day, and only in the U.S. is the bicycle treated as a plaything and not a serious mode of transport. See Holland. Or China. But it is also a plaything.

There are many reasons to ride to work. Cycling is good exercise, and pushing pedals is easier on the knees than pounding pavement. And a blessing for the wallet. A bicycle costs very little to maintain, even less to fuel. But the best reason to bike to work, or anywhere, as any bicyclist will tell you, is that it’s more fun. It’s simply a joy to sit on top of a bike and ride, to lean into corners and hop over bumps, to watch the sights and hear the sounds. True, it doesn’t hurt that I’ll pull into the best parking place on the Radford University campus. But not eco-smugness, health-nutness, or even parking euphoria keeps me riding. Maybe I refuse to grow up.

Hollywood knows this. In the movie the 40-year-old virgin, the main character collects figurines and rides to work, at least three signs that he’s a little goofy, socially inept. He starts out riding a Pee Wee Herman cruiser with mirrors (another Hollywood image of biking). He even uses a hand signal, further evidence of his backwardness and pedantry. And towards the end of the movie, when he finally has a love interest and is "growing up," the character says, "I've got to get a car!"

That someone died robs the innocence from everyday bicycling. On my ride to work I double-check now before crossing side streets, think twice before pulling out or taking risks. But I can’t give it up.

After Fess’s death, many of us wondered how to pay tribute to him. A bicycle procession? Many feared getting hurt, an understandable concern in light of the circumstances. A “ghost bike” at the site of the crash, like those makeshift memorials by the roadside? On Wednesday, May 21, Pathways for Radford, the citizens volunteer group Fess help start, will participate in an international ride of silence in honor of Fess and other cyclists who have been killed on public roadways. They will wear goofy helmets but ride in somber silence. And they may keep riding, even after that ride is over. They may even bike-to-work. Because they’re grown ups, doing the right thing: getting back up on that bicycle and having fun.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Have Fungi

Scanned the forest floor for about an hour the other day. Maybe if we had to forage for food we would have better concentration and focus. I felt like I did when I found four of these guys growing near stumps. I also saw more wildflowers: jack in the pulpit, bellwort, an amazing stand of trillium. I don't know what combination of soil conditions, moisture, vegetation creates the right conditions for these mor(s)els--I guess that's part of their allure. Some say they come up with the mayapples. Others say look under poplars, or where bloodroot and blue cohosh grow. Near maples, walnuts. On the way home from the park, I tried a spot I had seen some years ago, where a pear tree used to grow. Found two giant ones, big brainy things, in the gravel on the side of the road. Catherine cooked them in some butter. The kids said "they taste better than regular mushrooms." They do. We're heading out tomorrow to try to find some more.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring Beauties

On the east-facing bank of Radford's Wildwood park, beneath a large exposed rock, grows an abundant patch of early spring wildflowers, the ephemerals--bloodroot, Dutchman's breeches, larkspur, toothwart--grabbing sunlight before the treetop roof, taking advantage of the moisture and soil nutrients of this time of year too. Yesterday, on a trip with the kids, we spotted some wild ginger and this trout lilly, a burst of color sprouting up through the brittle leaves. These spring beauties alway fill me with delight. Rachel Carson called it the sense of wonder, and it takes expression (however inarticulate) as something like "how cool!" Most likely that is what I'll post more of here: ephemeral wild things I come across with my kids or that fill me with a kid-like wonder too good not share.