Monday, September 20, 2010

Reading Hikes

Over the last few weeks the girls and I have fallen into a regular pattern that is really working for us (hurrah!).  Once a week (sometimes more) we pack a lunch and head off to one of the local hikes that we enjoy.  There is usually some natural landmark for a destination - the beech tree, a lookout point - last week, it was the peak at an area called The Ridges.  Along with our lunch we carry a chapter book that we are reading together, our sketchbooks, and some pens.  It's a thing now - we call them "Reading Hikes".
I try to make sure our destination is more or less an hour's hike away.  There is much to explore and talk about along the way...do you know about Autumn Olives?  They are a new edible to us, invasive to this area.  I think their speckled berries are so pretty.
Ms. Eagle Eyes (Eliza) spotted this blob of bird poo on a leaf by the side of the path...no, wait - that isn't bird poo, it's a SPIDER!!! and really, it's the star of this post, because this is one damn cool spider! It's called the bolas spider, and what it does is it perches on a leaf, masquerading as bird poo so no one will be tempted to eat it, and waits for dusk, when the moths arrive.  Do you see how one of its legs is raised behind it? (Oh, please click on the photo if you can't see it - really, this creature is awesome.) There is a drop of stickiness poised at the end of the leg, and what it will do, having attracted the moths with an imitation pheromone (oh, so cunning), it will lash out its lasso and nap the moth out of mid-air.  YES IT'S TRUE!!!!(click here to see the bolas in action)  I still get tingles, thinking that we got to see this spider - Eliza would like to call David Attenborough to tell him...I think he'd be pretty excited for us.
Ah, back to the hike. We find a lovely place to spread a blanket, get out the sandwiches and iced tea, and enjoy our picnic.  Then we settle in for a good read. The girls get kind of dreamy under the big sky, and we pause often to listen to birds or inspect the critters crawling around us.  When I need a break or they get ancy, we stop and I get time to write while they run around, or we all go explore...
It is such a nice way to extend our outside time together, and we seem to return home ready for the next thing, not tired and needing a break from activity.
Then back down the path we go, with lighter packs...
...to catch the wonders of the day - a sycamore with the bright reds of a neighboring tree...
...the burrs and seeds pods of these autumn days. 

4 comments:

Reba said...

Oooooo! That sounds like a great adventure! We used to do the same thing, although on a smaller scale (since we still have a baby) but we called them Art Walks. We took our colored pencils and charcoal and the boys kept a sketch book. We usually walked just around our small town until we found something interesting enough to sketch. Fun times!

alissa said...

love it. except the spider.

kellyi said...

We spent our day in a similar way. (You should really work in sales! I was reading in Google Reader and had to click over to see the Spider up close!) :D

I think you are so very right - that is one awesome spider. Creepy but awesome.

Granola Girl said...

This is so cool! We go weekend backpacking with our kiddo and do a "nature journal" but this is totally awesome. I'll have to find some wonderful places around here to hike and spend our "school day" outside enjoying everything.