|Hannah, age 2, considering a Blue Dick flower|
"What species is that?" is one of the first questions many people ask of nature. Identifying plants or animals is challenging and fun. Species names are useful for communicating with other people, but they can also be a trap. Many birders will stop looking once they have identified a bird. The name is not the thing. Identifying a species is only the tip of the iceberg of inquiry. It is not necessary to know something's name to ask an interesting question or make a discovery about it. Ask as many questions as you can, and don't worry if an answer seems beyond your reach at first. The process of asking questions in and of itself is important.
- John Muir Laws, The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling
I took a walk with my mom and the kids a couple days ago and I tried to keep this quote firmly in mind as we oohed and ahhed over all the spectacular wildflowers, looking up the species, noting them in a list on my phone, and flagging them in our wildflower book. I tried to help us all linger a little longer, looking at the shape of a flower here, the growing conditions there, tracing the twining snake lily from ground to tip and marveling over the spectacular length of the stem, trying to look at each flower and know the name, but also to spend at least a few moments considering something else about it as well.
And largely thanks to my mom, we navigated the challenges of walking a trail with five children, a stroller, and a 100+ foot drop just off the side of the trail into a river gorge very well. We looked, examined, considered, and kept the four and two year olds from falling over the edge all at the same time.
|The intricate pod of the Lace Pod is tiny - each pod is only the diameter of a pencil eraser.|
|Gratuitous kid picture - Hannah insisted on holding Nathan's hand the whole way back. These are the moments I hope to hold in my mind forever.|