How gradually can you learn about the natural world around you? Intimate details, like a lover learns. Does it happen over months, or a couple rambles, or can it take years upon years? Is it too late, at 38, to learn the names of common mushrooms, to know the properties of the riverbed's herbs? I hope not. It is my hope throughout the new year to spend some serious time identifying local flora and fauna. I take great inspiration from friends like Dolly and Mary, who can say the names with reverent and gracious ease, who know the life cycles, the natives, the folklore. Intuitively I think that this knowledge gives deeper meaning to time's passing, to the seasons. At this point all I know is beauty, I know how good it feels to walk, and hold my daughter's hand, and take notice. I think that's a pretty good start. But seriously, I want to know so much more.
Christmas Eve's Eve, Darin finally got a day off and we took a little jaunt down Greenwood Creek with our hearty little explorers. We were all in love with all the mushrooms recent rains have brought, and we basked in their beauty without knowing much about them. Lucy quickly caught onto the game and pointed them out with boundless excitement. It seems everyone and their brother is a mushroom hunter these days; at the bookstore Darin says the mushroom guides fly off the shelves. It's a bandwagon I wouldn't mind jumping on. For now I just behold each little specimen in all its mystery.
Polly began her lessons on the fine art of river rock throwing. Skipping comes later, for now the nice plop and splash is thrill aplenty.
Pure Mycena (I think, according to my John Muir Laws field guilde.)
On the way back we stopped at the sandy creek bank again. Polly and I were examining a big hole in a tree and Darin was taking pictures when suddenly Lucy went splashing into the water! In her boots, socks, leggings, and dress! She didn't even rush back out, she just slogged along about thigh high for a while dragging a long stick (I think she was making it swim) until Darin snatched her out. It was so strange and kind of funny, and needless to say she was absolutely drenched and freezing and seemed a bit surprised by the whole thing herself. Luckily I had a change of clothes in the car and we had a warm cozy drive home.
Back to the uproar of Christmas festivities, but with that sweet peace that a nice long forest wander renews in your heart. I cannot wait for a day when I open my back door and can wander like this. And from now on, I pack my field guide with me!