Sunday, November 29, 2015

Searching For Nature Treasures

"Most children have a bug period, and I never outgrew mine.  Hands-on experience at the critical time, not systematic knowledge, is what counts in the making of a naturalist.  Better to be an untutored savage for a while, not to know the names or anatomical detail.  Better to spend long stretches of time just searching and dreaming."       E.O. Wilson

"The most effective way to connect our children with nature is to connect ourselves with nature.  If mothers, fathers, grandparents, or guardians already spend time outdoors, they can spend more; they can become birders, anglers, hikers, or gardeners.  If children sense genuine adult enthusiasm, they'll want to emulate that interest..."      Richard Louv

The circular area around the base of the large oak in our vacant lot is covered in desiccated leaves- the same leaves that were created by this very tree.   This detritus is also a mish mash of small branches, acorns, bark, and the gnawed upon shells of peanuts from a nearby squirrel feeder.   This spot has gotten the undivided attention of my 7-year old grand-daughter.  She is on her hands and knees looking for something that most people would either not notice or would wonder why she is looking for them in the first place.  “Here’s another one paw paw!” she cries excitedly- an excitement that only a child or a nature-obsessed old man can savor. I take the crinkly remains from her and add it to the rising pile inside a large plastic peanut butter jar. “That’s number 25”, I reply, as if we’re trying to break some sort of record.
Cicadas (in this case the annual or "dog day" cicada) emerge from their chambers in the ground as nymphs, latching themselves to a tree or any other nearby object.  They then, over a course of several hours, emerge from their nymph exoskeleton, dry their wings out and then fly away to find a cicada of the opposite sex to mate with.  This exoskeleton is what she is looking for.   Just another treasure to add to her nature collection.
Seeing them amongst the leaf litter isn’t easy, especially for my old eyes.  It’s greatly due to their color which allows them to blend in quite nicely with the leafy surroundings.  For some odd reason their color and consistency remind me of fried pork skins.  yum..........

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