I live on about 60 acres of fields, trees and prairie. I'm incredibly blessed to look outside every day at this slice of paradise. I try to tromp around often--on skis in the winter, on foot in the summer, occasionally ripping around the trails on our 4-wheeler.
The more I'm out there, the more I see. Initially I recognized common tree and plant species, birds and bugs. After those became familiar, I began to see the birds' nests, smaller insects, the rarer plants like wild violets that only bloom in spring. I've hunkered down with books about birds, bugs, animals, trees and plants--learning their names and fun facts about them. Visitors get dragged along our trails while I point out the highlights--"See that honeysuckle growing over there? We didn't plant it, one year it just popped up! That's the benefit of not mowing your fields. Over time the landscape totally changes, the shrubs come in, the invasive weeds disappear, more shrubs--did you see those dragonflies?" I'm obnoxious, a nature zealot.
Because Mr. T was in Webelo Scouts, we went to a "Whose Scat Is That?" program to learn all about animal and bird poop as part of a merit badge for him. We learned how to identify it and glean information from it. Now when I troll through the woods I can spot the obvious (deer, rabbit) and the more mysterious (skunk, fox) traces of wildlife.
Imagine a Boy Scout parent meeting where the Scoutmaster looks for somebody to help the boys earn a merit badge in Tracking. The qualified adult must a) know a bit about animals and their tracks and b) know where to take the boys to find these tracks.
Imagine a mom with a big mouth, a lot of property and the know-how to find tracks in a snowy woods.
You know by now where this is going.
And why my shopping list next week includes several packages of Plaster of Paris.
Spill it, reader. What strange thing is on your shopping list lately?