The earth is what we all have in common.
~ Wendell Berry – Naturalist
Weekly visits to local parks have always been a part of our schedule, but at the start of September the trips became more of a daily occurrence. The change came as we began participating in the Summit Metro Parks Hiking Spree.
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. ~ John Lubbock
Turning outdoor experiences into learning experiences is always a priority. One way we accomplish this is by starting each adventure with a plan to carefully look for examples of specific organisms or earth processes. On today’s hike, we focused our attention on wood decay fungi.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus
It felt as though autumn snuck up on us this year, and already it seems to be fading away. We’ve had frost on the ground and nearly all the leaves have fallen from our trees. Even so, there is still time to squeeze in a few Autumn leaf projects.
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials.
Art from Nature
It’s a slow moving rainy Saturday at the schoolhouse. Last night we filled a bag with freshly fallen maple leaves, and picked up a large brown cotton wood leaf for today’s Jack-o-lantern Mosaic project. It was the perfect night for a walk. The air was crisp and the leaves were dry. Kicking our feet through the fallen leaves is a game that never gets old.
Early this morning, before the boys awoke, we made our cups of tea and coffee and got to work. We cut the colorful maple leaves into small square pieces. Then, we created two pumpkin shaped forms from last night’s pizza box. Our final piece of prep work was cutting some jack-o-lantern face pieces from the cottonwood leaf.
This year we set out to include homesteading activities in the lives of our boys. It began with a simple garden of tomatoes, peppers, egg plants and cucumbers. Before long we decided to added a second garden closer to the house with watermelon, beans, and ground cherries.
The daily task of watering, weeding, and monitoring the garden became an important part of our family schedule. The garden provided endless opportunities to encourage our boys to learn. From the needs of plants to weather conditions it was easy to include math and science activities in our gardening time.
Peak color is in full swing here at the schoolhouse. Our maple trees are displaying their brilliant red and orange leaves, while the Willow, Catalpa and Osage Orange trees have turned their dismal yellow. Even the evergreens are shedding needles. Shaking their branches to make the needles rain down has become a favorite part of our morning walks.
With Autumn’s arrival we’ve been observing and talking about change. The falling leaves, birds flying south, outside temperatures and the adjustments to our wardrobe have all made for great learning.
Yesterday we observed swarms of bald-faced hornets,
An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Wood Decay Fungus
Our morning walk around the pond lead to an amazing find. We discovered all of these wood decay fungus examples growing on the north side of a single old stump. The stump has long been a landmark on our nature trail, but with this discovery it’s sure to be a frequent stopping point as we watch these decomposers do their work.
We’ve had lots of mushrooms growing this year. This patch was growing in the front yard near our pines. The bulk of this organisms is actually growing under the surface of the yard. Only the fruiting bodies emerge along the edges of the the underground fungus.