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Two Days, Three Wet Boys, and a Dead Possum

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The first hard frosts left the ferns dry and brown but the sun still shone on our pretty little swampland.  The bright red berries of what I think is called, “winterberry,” were practically glowing in the otherwise dully colored landscape.

 

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If I announce that I have found some scat, I get minimal interest, but if I say, “Here’s some poop, then everyone wants to see it!  My guess is usually raccoon at this size and with seeds like this, but even with our scat identification cards it isn’t always easy for me to tell.

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Don’t let the leaves fool you!  Every flat place covered in leaves here is actually water with leaves floating on top.

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Testing the water’s depth.

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Have you ever noticed how kids are attracted to anyplace where they can practice balancing?  It is just so natural to them that I see little point in discouraging this practice, especially since it is also exactly what their bodies and brains should, developmentally, be doing!

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Nothing they do is ever as it seems in the photographs.  I recall with certainty that these girls had some imagined other-worldly play going on…

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Fiercely defending their, “territory.”

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What are these mushrooms called?  They notice the tiniest details sometimes!

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If they can get themselves up, they can get themselves down!

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One of our last warm-ish days.  It is always warmer in the swamp.

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Did you know that mushrooms are basically the fruit of the plant which is either underground or inside of wood?  When mushrooms are picked or knocked over, it is the same as an apple being picked from a tree.  The tree remains to make apples next year.  It is the same with fungi!

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Speaking of apples… we found a few more on the secret fort tree and our two new explorers got to enjoy them just before they were gone for the season.

 

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Along the path to the Boardwalk and the Enchanted Forest.

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Amazing fungi!

 

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Another day on the Hairy Dinosaur!

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Day 2 of the next round of Woods and Wetlands.  The new boys want to learn how to read the thermometer.  Unfortunately this one is not particularly easy to read or well-marked.

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The muck isn’t deep in most places yet/still, but it still bears careful footing!

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These remind me of seashells.

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We made it to the Fairy Tree and E. says hello.

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What has he noticed?  It is always a fascinating observation and I absolutely love hearing his ideas!

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We made our way across from the Fairy Tree to the Boardwalk.

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This kid has come so far in such a short time!  He was so fearful of the swamp at first, but now he moves through it with confidence, if not complete balance…  He is enjoying showing what he knows to his friends who have recently joined us.

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While he was still dry…

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On this day our 3 first-graders learned a valuable lesson, the hard way.  It turns out that getting wet (sort of-mostly-on-purpose) when it is cold outside is NOT comfortable or fun!

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I decided not to photograph our view here because it focuses on the insides of a dead possum.  (Not everyone wants to see that.)  The week prior we discovered a freshly killed possum here and this week the boys ran to see if it was still there.  It was.  It had been disemboweled by something else, and as much as I adore (living) possums and even have a personal relationship with one at the zoo, I took a deep breath and followed the boys over to inspect and learn.  I could have discouraged them, but in keeping with my philosophy, I felt it was my responsibility to listen to the boys’ questions, answer what I could, pose my own questions, and model true scientific curiosity.   It didn’t have to be an, “Eeeww, gross!” or, “Aww, so sad,” moment that many adults would instinctively react with.  I followed the boys’ lead and stayed neutral, allowing them to decide how they wanted to respond.  THIS was a teaching and learning opportunity!

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We checked out the other side of the Enchanted Forest and found all kinds of cool places to climb and balance.

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He was pretty wet but he never complained.

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These two know how to stay dry and warm!

 

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The use of a walking stick can be very helpful for checking water depth and keeping one’s balance in tricky places!

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