Friday, April 13, 2012

Go Be a GeEK!

Spring is here! Go be a GeEK (Geo-Explorer Kid).  Earth Day is coming! Go be a GeEK. Arbor Day, Michigan Week, May Day, Birthday, any day...go be a GeEK! My granddaughter and my kids are GeEKS and so am I--and now many children in North Branch, MI are too.

How do you become a GeEK? Simple. Get up, get out, and get dirty and muddy, get wet and wild. Come to your senses! Wake up and smell the skunk cabbage, listen to the bees, taste a sun-soaked violet flower, feel the moss under your toes, and look--really look, at the world around you. Use binoculars, a microscope or hand lens--or just your own two eyes. Roll around and rejoice in your GeEKiness!

Sit under a tree. Splash in a vernal pool. Hike a ridge and "make like a tree"--stand tall, walk slowly, and stop often. Being a GeEK is not an aerobic sport. You can't really and truly enjoy and appreciate the natural world at a fast pace. Slow down. Take a collecting bag for goodies or garbage or both. Take a lunch, take a pack, take a pillow. Take a poking stick, a hiking stick. Take a friend--young or old. You are never too young or too old to be a GeEK!
GeEK Gear! Collection bag, bottles, hiking stick, pack and snack!

Sing to a butterfly--that tiny, blue spring azure that flits by. Or sing to the speedwell in your lawn--that tiny, blue flower growing close to the ground. Write about your GeEK time or draw it or a bit of it. Be friends with other GeEKS and talk about it. There is no shame in being a GeEK. So get up, get out and GO BE A...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Springing!

A breather at last! Happy springing into Spring everyone.

It's been a busy couple of weeks with county exhibits, Book Two revisions and the visiting of North Branch Elementary School with Kenny and Holly Wild books. I gave a talk and slide show and had kids pulling "biofacts" (dead things) out of a bag and shouting HERP! or NOT a HERP! I was surprised to see how observant they were. They had a great time and so did I. At the end of the presentation Kenny, my corn snake, took a bow. Of course, Kenny was a hit and stole the day. He got to be touched by over 600 kids. Here he is later in the afternoon getting acquainted with a few of my granddaughter's classmates.


Each child in Mrs. Jenuine's class got to make "poking sticks" and stamped animal tracks on them. Not to worry, they received proper poking etiquette--as soon as they had the sticks in their hot little hands! Hopefully, they are out discovering their greening world like good North Branch GeEKS (Geo-Explorer Kids) during their spring break.


So with all that busyness behind me, I took the day off today. I have been putting together a tiny vernal pool in an aquarium and watching the life within it. A calming hobby. I wanted to find some snail food (an excuse to get dirty) and see what else was kicking outside, so I had to get up, get out and get wild and get to the local vernal pool.

Wow! Fun stuff those pools. Still chilly outside, there was little frog song, yet I had a great time. I got to see a tiny polliwog hiding in leaves and my first fairy shrimp. Those wigggly-legged, micro-crustacean buggers are a half inch long--larger than I would have thought. I was looking for them when one popped its head into the sun for a minute. Thrill of the day.

 
www.vernalpool.org Fairy Shrimp
The water striders were striding and the water boatmen boating (no motor zone here--only 6" deep). I spotted a caddisfly larva with a house of sticks on its back. How cool is that? Needless to say, I was covered with pond water and vernal mud by the time I was done pond watching.

If you have time or are as curious as I am about vernal pools, pop on over to the vernal pool website above to learn more about the value of these spring waterholes of life and their value to the environment. As I left the pool, I got to see a few herps on their own outing--a garter snake climbing the hill and a wood frog on the bridge I crossed. I'm heading out again tomorrow--same time, same place, same nature channel.

Celebrate waking life and grab a poking stick and head to the woods and GO FIND SPRING!

CONGRATULATIONS TO STEPHANIE BAJEMA! SHE WON THE BLOG CONTEST DRAWING. WATCH for another blog contest on EARTH DAY, April 22, 2012.