A walk in the near-winter woods.

The Eldest led the way through trails he has named and cultivated…

Yesterday, we made use of the stunning, sunshine-dappled weather to take a little stroll through our woods.

We kept our eyes open for certain signs and signals of life in a wintering wood. Having this handy printable- which you can download and print for free- oriented me in my quest with four kids of ages between 3 and 10.

The Almost Winter Woodland Walk Checklist (PDF)

One of the first things we discovered was the sign of a struggle- an area with a large number of white and gray bird feathers. The eldest speculated that a battle with a fox had taken place..

The troupe looked concerned about the feather display.

Micah found some moss growing on old rotted wood.
She broke off a piece to put in her aluminum purse.

We found a tree covered in a thick crust of woody growths.

The little people closed their eyes and ran their fingers over the trunk to “feel the tree”.

“Look mommy, POPcorn!” shouted an elated little Milla.

Max quickly corrected her with a warning not to “eat fungi you can’t recognize”.

Everyone seemed to spot winter shelters at once, including the deep hollows of a rotting tree stump.

Max dubbed this one “a hiberation hideaway for a mouse”.

Then Micah spotted the classic “gnome home” in tilted tree.

It was B. who pointed out the evergreen leaves on this shrub we have yet to identify.

Nearby, just a few paces away, I came across a very strange stick which had a star-like formation of branches coming from the center. Max staked it into the ground and called it a landmark for some land I could not pronounce.

Milla marveled over the bark that tore away easily from a rotting stump when she touched it.

Micah made sure that everybody stayed together and didn’t touch any thorny bushes or fall into any “snake pits”. Since she was the only creature prescient enough to bring a purse, she also carried around our woody collections.

We paused to wonder about the webbing inside a fallen magnolia leaf.

“So that’s how they stay so strong,” remarked The Eldest.

“And so beautiful,” I couldn’t resist adding.

And then back we went- through the magic tunnel that leads from the woods to the tiny, rather unfashionabe castle we presume to call “home”. It was a lovely little sojourn.

Without further ado, Micah emptied the contents of our almost-winter woodland walk onto an outdoor chair (which she assured me could double as the “nature table”). I love being able to go over each leaf and cone, each twig and bit of moss- the memory in our hands and fingers turn this natural world into something evocative and familiar.

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