On Thanksgiving day the family set out from my grandma’s house to go on a walk around the nearby lake. Before we had even reached the lake, a little girl came over to us on the walking path and invited us to come see the toad that was living in her window well. My heart burst with how sweetly she had reached out to us and invited us to be a part of something that was special to her. You could tell how much she loved that toad and how in awe she was, and also how happy she was to share that delight with others.
Bracken was elated when she asked him if he would like a turn holding the toad. I even got a turn myself. Her family watched, smiling, the whole time and I told her that she had made our day. I love the way children tend to share so freely, and rather than thinking in a typical adult way of holding back and second guessing- should I really ask these people walking along, they might not be interested-, marching confidently along knowing- of course many people will be interested in my dear toad friend, it’s awesome!
We saw rabbits and squirrels in my grandma’s backyard the whole time we were there, along with birds constantly visiting the feeder. On our family walk, Bracken showed us the hawk nest he spotted with my uncle. After seeing a hawk land in the nest the day before, he reported back to me “you won’t believe- the most magical thing ever happened to me!” We saw many other nests along our walk too, they were easy to spot with the bare branches. Walking outside is one of my favorite things to do and when you add a pleasant walking path, beautiful scenery, and good company- it’s the best.
A few days later my grandma’s best friend, who lives right down the street, was our tour guide for another walk around the pond. She showed us, along with her sweet dog Jackson, where the beavers had been. We got to see two beaver dams and also a beaver lodge all plastered with mud, which was really neat. We saw a bunch of trees the beavers had chewed on too. (On one of our trips last year she took us to see the beavers as well, in a different spot. And after looking at the pictures from that post, I can tell how much Bracken has grown by the fact that those overall legs don’t need rolling up any longer!)
I loved the walks we went on while we were there. The weather was warm for that time of year and coming from lots of rain in Oregon, that sunshine felt especially wonderful. It made me miss the wide open skies of the Midwest and the sunny winters (though they’re cold!) With each walk we took during our visit, Bracken came back with nature treasures- cattails, milkweed seeds, a cool stick, some rocks. (You wouldn’t believe the hours of entertainment with the milkweed fluff that became fairies, and then was spun into yarn. Who needs toys when you’ve got milkweed fluff? And a very patient great grandma.)
Right when we had first arrived, Bracken received some very special gifts and my grandma invited him to put his nature finds on the table on her deck while we were there. It became the treasure table, and adding to it the whole time was really fun. My grandma gave him some wood shavings the beavers had chewed off a tree, and a pile of new birch bark (to create more bark art with.) My uncle had found a deer antler in the woods and wanted Bracken to bring it home safely to Jeff so he could make something with it. (I have yarn and a pattern picked out for a vest for myself, and had been thinking some deer antler buttons would be perfect for it, great timing!)
My grandma’s best friend had two presents waiting for Bracken- a clam shell from the lake, and the most special gift of all- a turtle shell! She had found it near the lake when she was visiting the beaver dams. She had never found one before and thought Bracken would appreciate it. The shell is from a painted turtle. He couldn’t believe his luck and we were blown away by her generosity in giving us such a rare gift. (We’re searching for the best place to keep it in our house, it needs a place of honor because it’s one of our very favorite things.)
Looking at these pictures of the treasure table makes my heart smile. There was a piece of wood from a woodpecker tree Bracken found with my uncle, a sprig of juniper, and some red berries on a branch none of us knew the name of. The corn cob was found near the bird feeder, I believe, and when I asked Bracken if he wanted to leave it there (because he had corn cobs of his own at home) he looked at me like I was crazy and couldn’t believe I would even consider leaving his special corn cob behind. Nature treasures indeed! Corn cobs and all.