Over the Labor Day weekend, we had family visiting, and rather than sit around at home, we decided to take a hike…in the rain. The precipitation was not planned or particularly fun for *some* of the kids, so a complaining was expected since it wasn’t exactly ideal weather. Rather than end on a sour note, we decided to go hiking that weekend…again! Cue the shouts of elation/ardent complaints. Every kid is different every time we go.
We decided to go to Brown County, a large, forested state park just south of us. We’ve gone before to a morel festival, visited the park with other cousins, and love to see the colors in the fall, but we’ve never done any serious venturing through the park.
Like mushrooms. We went all of five feet before Jack started finding patches of chanterelles. Jack always packs his trusty mushroom bag whenever we take a hike, and for good reason. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time we didn’t pick up some kind of mushroom or other wild edible on our family adventures.
If there’s one thing the kids know how to do, it’s hunt for mushrooms. As Jack was harvesting the chanterelles, the kids started wandering the area to find more. They love showing what they’ve found to Jack and getting the approval to put it in the bag. If they happen to pick something that isn’t edible, Jack takes the time to teach them what it is so their confidence in identifying plants, mushrooms, and berries increases.
Peter’s favorite part of the forest are the sticks. He often uses them as walking sticks and has saved himself a few faceplants while employing them properly, but everyone had better watch out if he starts swinging them around. He could knock an ogres off a bridge and has practiced plenty of times in mock battles with older siblings.
My favorite part of any outdoor excursion is the wildlife. We don’t usually see anything big, like deer or turkey, because we are way too loud while we travel, but we find plenty of itty bitty critters that can’t get away fast enough as we approach. Evelyn usually finds the frogs and toads, reinforcing my theory that they flock to her.
Having worked for several years in university entomology labs, I have a pretty good eye for spotting insects. No one cares for the biting flies, ticks, and mosquitoes, but we love a good wooly worm, butterfly, caterpillar, or stick bug.
Being from Nebraska, which is not known for being densly forested, I feel like I learn something every time I got into the forest. During that trip, someone found a snake coiled on the forest floor. It was trying to flatten itself in a nothing-to-see-here stance and though it was mostly gray, it had a vibrant yellow line around its neck. I can’t help myself when it comes to reptiles, so I got a stick, to look closer and when this little guy wriggle away, I found another surprise–the entire underbelly of the snack was the same bright yellow. I would have loved to play with the (what I now know as a) ringneck snake a for longer, but it escaped into the underbrush before I could get my hands on him.
|Dare you to eat squid legs, Claire!|
|Henry’s always a willing hiker.|