Winter Wildflowers: I Can’t Believe It

 

Wild Radish California
(You can click on any photo to make it larger.)

Wildflower Morning is sponsoring a winter wildflower blog-a-thon and this week we were challenged to find a wildflower that blooms in winter. I thought this was a pretty daunting task considering it has been snowing off and on for a few weeks here in our area of northern California.

But I was so surprised on Monday when my husband and I were driving down the mountain and I actually saw some areas with wildflowers blooming right along the road. I had to go back with my camera and take some photos for you all to see. It actually started hailing on me while I was shooting these photos and my husband thought I was a little crazy for sticking it out.

I think I was a little wildflower starved because I took a lot of photos. I want to thank Elizabeth Joy for sponsoring this event. If I hadn’t had the challenge on my mind, I might have missed noticing these beautiful wildflowers. I had my eyes open and alert the last few days searching for something to photograph. I was rewarded for my diligence. Scroll down after the wildflower photos, you will see the added gift I was given while I was photographing the flowers.

I have yet to identify the flowers so I will come back and edit if I come up with something. I tried for about an hour with my field guide and the internet and didn’t come up with a name. I am sure someone knows what they are…..pretty much the same, just different colors.

Wild Radish

 

I look forward to seeing everyone’s winter wildflowers.

 

Bird’s Nests in Winter: We Found One!


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Here is the whole nest that we found under a tree in our front yard. It is amazingly made with small little twigs and hair. Here is a close-up.

I have no idea what kind of bird made this nest. We do know we have a scrub jay that nests in this tree but this is so small it can’t possibly be the jay’s.

On page 46 of the Handbook of Nature Study under the sub-heading:The Study of Birds’ Nests in Winter:
“But after the birds have gone to sunnier climes and the empty nests are the only mementos we have of them, then we may study these habitations carefully and learn how to appreciate properly the small architects which made them. I think that every one of us who carefully examines the way that a nest is made must have a feeling of respect for its clever little builder.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Handbook of Nature Study: Friend or Foe?

There it is, Handbook of Nature Study, sitting on your bookshelf. Now what?

My copy of the Handbook of Nature Study sat on my shelf for a couple of years and I finally sold it on ebay. Yes, you heard me right. I got tired of dusting it and feeling as if I should be doing something with it when I couldn’t figure it out at all. So now you are wondering what happened to bring me around to where I am now. Simply put, I stopped fighting it.

I checked it out from the library and took some time to page through it. I read blogs where families actually used the book, encouraging me to give it a real try this time. We already had a love of nature in our family but we really wanted to have a better way of studying things in nature in a little more systematic way.

Maybe it was not the book that was the problem for us.

Since I trusted Ambleside Online’s ideas for many subjects already, it was a natural fit to try their system for nature study. I went to their nature study page and read the whole thing. I then read the information in the Charlotte Mason volumes about outdoor time and nature study. I read other blogs that used the Handbook of Nature Study. In other words, I did a little bit of homework and came up with a plan for our family.

Tips from our experiences:

  • Pick three sections of the book to cover in your school year….four if you want to cover one over the summer too. Try to think of things you will actually be able to observe in your course of everyday life. Do you have a birdfeeder? Do you have a pet cat or dog? Do you have a place to grow a few vegetables? Do you enjoy keeping track of the weather or looking at the clouds?
  • Start with something you will enjoy.
  • As the parent/guide, read the introduction to the section you are going to study a few times over. I have found that just reading these few pages opens your eyes to a lot of ideas for further study on the topic chosen. Use the information and suggested activities as a place to start your study of a particular animal or aspect of nature.
  • Make notes in the book or in a notebook with ideas for your study.
  • Go through your personal library and check for any reference items you may have on the subject of your study. I was surprised when I did this to find that I already owned quite a few books to go along with our fall study of insects. Check your library for books and field guides too.
  • Our family enjoys identifying things we find on our nature outings. This means we need to have a basic field guide to go along with our study since the Handbook of Nature Study is NOT a field guide.

Yes, I finally purchased the Handbook of Nature Study for the second time and this time around it is getting used weekly. I had tried to use the online version by printing out only the pages I needed but that was too much work. Having my own copy at my fingertips has been a blessing this past term. Our nature study has taken on a new level of interest. Hope this helps someone get started with this valuable book.