What I really wanted to share first was our new nature area, but it's not quite up and running. Suffice it to say however, we did begin something in the realm of getting outdoors and studying nature: we searched for milkweed.
No, that is not milkweed. He photographed some tiny purple flower ~ don't even know its name.
Why start with milkweed for our first foray?
Several reasons. #1: reality
Reinventing the wheel and coming up with a nature study all our own was something I did not have the time for, and since I've spent the last several years checking out Barb's wonderful site for all things nature but never taking the plunge, I figured that NOW was that time. I purchased her newest e-book called More Nature Study with the OHC (Outdoor Hour Challenge) for a mere $6.95. The thing that caught my eye about this was that it includes simple challenges for highschoolers as well as younger students. She uses Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study as the basis. Her whole blog (of the same name) offers additional insight. Her first challenge for Autumn is of course...milkweed...so we just jumped in.
spotted cucumber beetles (the one on the left was much greener than its friend)
on a woodland sunflower?
Which leads me to my 2nd reason for starting with milkweed:
#2: It's supposedly an easy weed wildflower to spot.
There are a seemingly infinite number of flowers, insects, rocks, leaves, trees, (etc) to study. It can be mind boggling. So I figured that finding milkweed would be rather easy since it has such large tell tale pods. In fact, I remember fondly as a child discovering milkweed pods with all their wispy seeds hiding inside and thought what fun it would be for my kids to make the same discovery.
Thistle - although we usually try to keep this out of our yard (ouch!),
we cut this & brought it home with us to study the seeds.
Reminds me of milkweed seeds.
Alas! There's a problem: we're having trouble locating the ever elusive milkweed. We visited 2 nearby parks, and as I drive along various roads in the area, I'm trying to keep my eyes peeled for any sign of it (probably not the wisest thing to do when I'm the driver) because the field guides and websites I read said that it's common along roadsides... well, maybe it doesn't like our area of the country? Maybe not at this time? We won't give up looking for it, but most likely we'll table this challenge for a wee bit.
Not all was lost however in our search for milkweed. We enjoyed the walks in the park and found lots and lots of other goodies! And it was so nice just to be together and breathing in fresh crisp air. We're learning what to take/not to take with us and what to wear/not to wear as we go along.
Barb's 2nd challenge for Autumn is leaf miners and leaf rollers... this might prove more readily available... but even not, we'll get out explore a little bit of God's wonderous and awe-inspiring nature and bring home lots of exciting things to study.
UPDATE: We have milkweed! It magically arrived at our house at around 9:30pm Monday. More on that later...