Friday, 25 January 2013

A Snow Plow and a Spider

I watch an adorable four year old most Wednesday nights while his parents lead our high school youth group.  Last week he and I snuggled in to read a huge pile of books. He excitedly handed me one favorite after another, the same way my children did, never seeming to tire of the same old story.  Every week I sneak in a few new titles and this week, in celebration of a recent snow fall, we read Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton.

I love all her stories as well as the illustrations that fill the page with tiny details and so much to look at. As I was enjoying each simple scene I suddenly was reminded of a previous 'friend' I had studied.

"But Katy was so big and strong
she had to stay at home, 
because there was not enough snow for her to plow."

But Spider was so shy and wary
he had to curl the leaf,
because that was the only way to feel secure.

I gleefully showed my daughter my personal connection.  She whimsically looked at the illustration of Katy in the garage smiling as she remembered the story. I then showed her my photo of the spider and she had to agreed that yes, it was quite like Katy preparing to plow.  Then, in disgust, she said I had ruined the sweet image of Katy diligently plowing out a city from the big snow.  To her the spider is a shudder-inducing creature that  now replaces dear Katy in a once beloved book.

Connections our children make between different stories, ideas and adventures they have are as different as you and me. You may not 'get' my connection between Katy and the spider, but it was mine to make and mine to keep mulling over. I wonder if the spider's big snow is a big insect instead. I wonder how long he waits in that one leaf like the snow plow in a garage. Katy has a purpose proper to her as does the spider. 

The spider laid in wait for days
so he could catch just the right insects for his supper
Then he went home satiated.
Then....and only then did the spider stop.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Is it a Rat or a Mouse?

The bird is an American Kestrel. I was on a lovely New Year's Day drive with my husband along back roads through the county when I spotted it holding on to what I am sure was a delicious treat for its lunch.

The American Kestrel did not like our intrusion even though we had turned off the truck and sat there to watch. He must have been a shy eater. So what did he plan to dine on that day?

I did some research to figure out what type of rodent it dropped and then so quickly swooped down to retrieve.  The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America. It ranges from 5-11 inches with a wingspan of 20-24 inches and weighs about 3 ounces.

Mice reach the length of 3 inches with their tails being as long as their bodies.  Voles grow to 9 inches and resemble mice but with a stouter body and a shorter hairy tail.  A rat can grow to over 11 inches and its tail is also as long as its body.  I knew it couldn't be a mole because the feet didn't match.

On that information go to the top photograph and compare the relative size of the rodent to that of the falcon.  
Is it a Rat, Mouse or Vole? 

The rodent is at least half its size. Adult mice are only 3-4 inches long and both the mouse and rat have tails as long as their bodies.  My guess would be that our falcon has got himself a vole. Do you agree?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Nature Study Idea: Winter

It is wonderful that we have different seasons.  There may not be new species to see in winter but we certainly can see things in a new way.  Winter also reveals things previously hidden. 
What have you discovered?

Squirrel nests, three of them!

There were hundreds of blooms on the tulip tree,

but we just couldn't see them because of the leaves.