Spring Haikus

Reminiscing on some Haikus from the past. These seemed a good way to honor spring and welcome summer.

March
Quivering seed pods
Last year’s fruit, This year’s promise
Red buds produce life.

April
April ‘to Open’
Birds beckon, flowers unfold
Hope, re-birth, re-new.

May
Dampness Awakens.
Slow green shoots appear and grow.
Spring bursts in splendor.

How goes butterfly
So gaily in morning dew.
Quiet. Elusive.

Surf booms, with great roar.
Coquinas ride waves to rest
On white, clean beaches.

Pelicans I
Spring aerial art.
Wheeling, gliding all in sync
Pelicans migrate.

Pelicans II
Spring aerial art
Banks, wheel. Dive. Glide in sync
Pelicans migrate.

Mountain tall, distant
Shelters small creatures that live
In harmony there.

Laughter tumbles free,
From souls to the earth.
Children, living gifts.

Understand
Begin where we are
Understanding nuances
Plain talk ease nerves.

Spring Into the Mud Season!

This blog from Community Playthings caught the eye of Winding Pathways.  Indeed, today’s society is too concerned with correctness, cleanliness, and convention.  A Buddhist saying goes something like this:  spend twenty minutes outside everyday.  If you think you are busy, spend an hour. At Winding Pathways we find this to be true.  No matter the weather we try to get outside to see the sun or stars or clouds; to experience the wind or cold or heat; to feel the rain or snow on us. We keep our bearings, feel the roughness and gentleness of the environment and learn.  Observe the changes of the seasons, find your Cardinal Points using the sun and structures, listen for the birds, watch the sky.  Be.  Above all, let kids be kids to slop around, spin, jump, tumble, get filthy dirty and then enjoy a warm bath and fresh clothes with a cup of hot chocolate and conversation.  Go Outside and Play!

Free Range Kids

 

Boy Playing by Dock

Children learn by exploring.

Walking to and from school in the 1950s and ‘60s yielded exercise, adventure, learning and fond memories.

Rich walked or bicycled about a mile to and from school down one road, along a woodsy path, across the Rockaway River, and around a wetland to school.  Along the way were frogs to catch, stones to toss in the river, and little melted snow streams to dam with rocks and watch the water flow. The trek to school may have been as educational as the classroom topics and lots more fun.

On her way to a friend’s house in Florida, Marion balanced along logs and stopped to talk with the friendly horse in a pasture. In New Hampshire she and friend, Pete Martell, opted for the hypotenuse route to school. They had just learned that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line! Instead of following the road through the village and down School Street, they crossed the Piscataquog River on a large pipe above the dam and jagged rocks connecting two factories.  Half way across the pipe, the consequences of a fall dawned on her.  This  one-time “adventure” became a lifelong lesson in thinking through actions.

At a recent conference Blue Zones Director of Innovation and Inspiration, Dan Burden, told us the odds of a child being abducted by strangers has been dropping for years and is lower today than in the 50’s. Ironically, modern parents fear abduction and drive their kids to school, robbing them of exercise, fun, and learning.

Cedar Rapids Community School administrator, Steve Graham, told us that most school districts built schools in residential neighborhoods so children could walk.  Nearby streets were never designed for the heavy traffic that now occurs each morning and afternoon when parents drop off or pick up kids, even when they live just a block or two away.

We were free range kids. Mom and Dad expected us to get to and from destinations and to exercise good judgment. We made mistakes, got skinned knees and mosquito bites, but we learned. In those delicious  walks after school and on weekend rambles we  invented games played in vacant lots with other kids, chased butterflies, stomped in the snow, climbed trees and experienced the world first hand.  We learned.

We’re thankful our parents raised us as free range kids. Mom and Dad set some limits, but we were free to explore our world.  We raised our two children the same way and were delighted when they returned from the woods tired and dirty but full of tales of their afternoon adventure shared around the dinner table.

We’re concerned that few of today’s kids have the freedom to explore that we had. Too many of today’s yards are boring, sprayed monocultures that don’t inspire kids to go outside and play.  Keep visiting our Winding Pathways Website and we’ll share tips on how to make your yard a magical place for kids…..and their parents…….to play.

The Gift of Winter Reading

Bring nature inside this winter with a selection of books from two “nature friendly” stores. Winding Pathways encourages readers to shop locally to support small community businesses. Happy reading!

 

Julie Welcomes Guests to New Bo Books

Step into the warmth of winter reading with a great selection at New Bo Books.

Books at New Bo Books

New Bo Books is a local bookstore affiliated with Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City. Check out their wide array of current adult topics and children’s classics for this Holiday Season.

For Children

A Leaf Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas. ISBN 9780761362036. A leaf is a leaf – or is it more? This poetic book helps little ones explore the role leaves play throughout the year.

If You Hold a Seed by Elly MacKay. ISBN 9789762447213. Inspire those you love; either a seed or a dream, planted and nurtured can grow. Beautiful illustrations!

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies. ISBN 9780763655495. An illustrated treasury of poems that reflect what children learn in their first encounters with nature.

Adult Nonfiction

Mountain Eyes by Scott Peters. Self-published. Wonderful photography and insightful reflections on man and nature from Scott Peters’ travels in Alaska, Patagonia and the Pacific Crest Trail. Number x120.

American Canopy by Eric Rutkow. ISBN 9781439193587. A broad historical study of the deep connection between America and its trees, from the colonial era to present day.

Indian Creek Nature Center Sign

After a brisk walk on the trail stop in to pick up some great winter reading.

Books at Indian Creek Nature Center

 Indian Creek Nature Center features a variety of books for children and adults. Certain general adult topic books are on sale for 20% off until gone. They also carry great nature/science kits for kids (Animal Tracks, Science on a Nature Walk, Going Green). New this year are all natural with bark still on building block sets and origami projects and books.

Just out: The Tallgrass Prairie Reader. Edited by John T. Price – University of Iowa Press ISBN-13 9781609382469. A wonderful collection of literature from and about the Tallgrass bioregion with voices and perspectives from the days of buffalo and immense prairies into the present. Individual writers honor the Tallgrass Prairie from their unique experiences and perspective.

Children’s Books

Hunting Red by Jean Snodgress Wiedenheft. ISBN 9780615907925. Inspired by the plants, animals and landforms of Indian Creek Nature Center, Hunting Red takes you on an adventure looking for the color red as it appears in nature.

The Prairie that Nature Built by Marybeth Lorbiecki. ISBN 9781584694922.  Romp through the prairie above, below and all around while also discovering unique creatures and fragile places. This beautiful richly illustrated book also comes with a scan code to get the free pop-up app. Watch the animals pop up from each page!

Adult Nonfiction

The Locavore Way by Amy Colter. ISBN9781603424530.  Discover and enjoy the pleasures of Locally Grown Food. Learn how to source, experience and savor the freshest foods from your area.  Features sustainability, and organic and humanely raised food.

Home Herbal Remedies by Melanie Wenzel. ISBN9780778804895.  Recipes, treatments, sources and identification guide with photos. Exceptionally complete guide written by a homeopath expert.

To find more annotated nature books, subscribe now!

Already a member? Log in.

A CASCADE OF WONDROUS LEAVES

October is a wondrous month of great change in the backyard. Thousands of leaves that devoted warm months harvesting solar energy now become free and fun soil builders.

Fall’s shortened days cause backyard elm, maple, oak and other trees to hang it up for the season. Green chlorophyll disappears revealing reds, yellows and browns that were there all summer but were masked by verdant green. Soon puffs of breeze bring dry leaves swirling to the ground.

We can perceive October’s leaf fall two ways. It’s either a season of drudgery or harvest of a free, organic and bountiful resource.

Raking, bagging and stacking zillions of leaves on the curb for the city to cart away is drudgery that gives away a precious resource.

Better to view leaves as wondrous tree gifts. Those multitudes of mini solar collectors are rich in carbon destined to become topsoil. All humans need do is enjoy and appreciate them and perhaps corral leaves so they won’t blow into the neighbor’s yard.

Kids love leaves. Have them help rake them into a dry pile in the center of the yard. Then pretend you’re a ground hog and burrow under the nearly weightless mound. Just make sure the kids don’t play in leaves stacked in the street for pickup! A car could plow through them and cause a tragedy.

All leaves decompose. Look closely and notice that the leaves of maples, elms, ashes and locusts tend to be flat and make a mat on the ground that soon absorbs moisture. They rot fairly fast. In contrast oak and hickory leaves curl to allow air to circulate under them when on the ground. They stay dry and resist rotting but eventually turn into humus.

Leaves make excellent compost material but need nitrogen to speed decomposition. Alternate layers of leaves with manure in the bin this fall and pitchfork out wonderful compost when gardening season starts next spring.

An easier way to put the annual leaf harvest to good use is to mulch them. Simply pile layers of leaves around young trees, shrubs and even in the garden, then wet them down so they don’t blow. Most likely they won’t be rotted away next spring but will hold moisture in the soil and reduce weed growth most of next summer. A year from now they will have been miraculously transformed into humus.

Leaves are wondrous, fun and a handy, free resource. Enjoy them this fall and thank your trees for sharing their organic solar collectors.