Month: June 2015

Field Guides and Hobbies

“Oh! I hope I see this one!” Gleek’s finger pointed to the blue and black glossy picture. She flipped a few pages over and saw my handwritten note “You’ve seen this?” she gasped. I watched my daughter flip through my field identification guide for western birds, and she squeed over pictures with as much enthusiasm as she sometimes spends on anime stories and characters.

I fell in love with bird watching when I took a field biology class in high school. It was a hobby that often lay idle, but never completely forgotten. I’ve attempted to share it several times with my kids, but either they were too young, or they didn’t have the passion for it that I did. Also the best bird watching occurs long before they wanted to be out of bed.

This evening Gleek was packing for her five day trip to Girl’s Camp. The packing list said “journal” and Gleek remembered that she had a nature journal which teaches about observation and note taking in the natural world. The nature journal had a list of things to pack for an observation trip, one of the items was a field guide. So I raided my shelf. I handed over a book about Utah butterflies and another about Utah flowers. Then I loaned her my second best bird book. I couldn’t quite bring myself to let her take the one with all my notes in it. That one is a record of the birds I’ve seen and when. It has my bird count.

Maybe she’ll get to camp and find a hundred things to do which are not using field guides to identify the nature around her. Or maybe she’ll discover, as I did, that the world only feels more magical when you know the names for what you are seeing. Either way, I’ll get to hear her stories when she returns. And maybe in months to come I might have a bird watching buddy for a few early morning trips.

Rain at the Picnic

It is almost ten o’clock and outside my open window I can still hear the rain falling. It began hours ago with a few drips while we were at a dinner picnic in the park. Soon the children were running, laughing, spinning in the rain. I watched Kiki whirl around with her younger cousins. Kiki’s long braided hair whipping around like a rope attached to her head. Patch chased after her for a bit and they both laughed. The spinning and running was Link’s idea. “You should make yourselves dizzy and play tag.” So they did, and he stood and watched, protected from the rain by his hat. Gleek found an open section of lawn and sat. She was still while the rain landed on her, communing with the sky. I watched all this from the pavilion where most of the grown ups and half of the kids had retreated when the rain began to fall. Howard stepped out into the rain to flip the last of the burgers.

Rain didn’t ruin the picnic. It just added a new layer. Though the temperature dropping probably did send people home sooner than they otherwise would have gone.

I like listening to the rain. I like that we got to be outdoors in it for a time.

Too Early for Evaluation

We are two days into the school-free summer schedule and I’m still trying to figure out how it goes. I’m certain that this summer has more scheduled things for the kids than I’m accustomed to and I’m trying to figure out how that fits with all the hours where I need to be able to ignore the kids and get work done. So I dove into my blog archive to see how I managed other Junes. Turns out it has been five years since June wasn’t impacted by a major shipping event. It has been three years since June didn’t have a big trip in it. My archive trawl showed me that the only pattern I have for June is to intend to do lots of good parenting things and then to let them slide because I have to balance against the work I need to get done. Thus the kids play far more video games than I should probably allow.

For the first time in years I have June as a month to establish summer patterns. I’m not going to make ambitious plans. I’m just going to try to help us all to settle in. We need routine and relaxation. We need work and rest in appropriate proportions. We need to set up Link’s summer independent study program. We need to establish therapeutic cello practice for Patch. We need to visit the barn where Gleek rides horses and plays with kittens. I have to remember that I’m only two days into the summer. It is okay that we don’t have established patterns yet. It is okay to feel our way through this first week and figure out how things need to go. June has 30 days and I don’t have to get all of them perfectly right.

Not that today or yesterday were wrong, they just weren’t routine. Yet. Because nothing can be a routine when you’ve only done it once. We need some more summer Mondays and Tuesdays before I can know if they’re working. Only then can I see what needs to be tweaked. For now I can hear my kids laughing out loud because they’re playing a game together. The fan is in the window drawing cool evening air into the house. And I’m sorting my thoughts into words. These are all good things.