Midwinter Walk

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!


Rachel Weaver said…
I think that is a great resolution of the new year. My favorite resolutions, and the only ones I am usually any good at keeping up, are exploring a new hobby or interest.
I'm hoping that once I'm at home pretty much full time, I start doing nature journals with the big kids in earnest. I'm Hopefully we can learn together.
Jessica said…
You live in a beautiful place!! I've always hoped for a day too when we can just walk out our door and Everdeen can go exploring in the wilderness...ahh maybe someday! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!
dolly anna said…
oh heather you are speaking my language!!!!!!!! i am swooning over your nature pics, and i know you're outside enough to get quite a few... keep posting them! the chubby finger with the mushroom at the top is the cat's meow. i find that kids are the best at spotting all of the magic little things out in the world if they are given just the tiniest taste...your girls will be expect wanderers for all time now. yellow bulbitious, you'll see them all over now. :) what i love about mushrooms is that once you start looking, they show up everywhere...another layer of the mystery has been peeled away, and they show themselves to you. i love me some decomposers!!! xoxoxo
Milla said…
Are those Turkey tails at the end of that log!?!?!? If so they'll look like turkey tails (I'm not joking-you'll be like 'ha. turkey tails') and they're medicinal. It's super antioxidant, helps with respiratory ailments and is an all-around magical herb. Anyway, sorry I got a little ahead of myself. ;)

These pics are so sweet and I love the story of Lucy's "river walk". Sometimes you just gotta go see for your self, right. I often find that I'm fighting the urge to jump in the ocean myself. It makes me wonder what it would be like to live somewhere where the water was warm and you could just do that, go in at will…

Happy Merry New Year to you my dear friend, I hope that it's a nature walk filled one and know that you can learn all of details and integral magics of you woods and rivers and mountains. They'll come to you like so many birds <3

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