Mother Nature Celebrates Spring

Winter is finally coming to an end. Both you and your kids have probably spent entirely too much time indoors. Are you ready for a change?

Surprisingly enough, in sharp contrast to your feelings of being drained and winter-weary, the animals are gearing up for the most important time in their life cycle. While humans procreate whenever the situation is right, animals do almost all of their mating, nesting and insuring the continuation of their species in the early spring.

This is the very best time to take your kids out to explore the world around them. My favorite approach is to dress warmly, including boots, and head out. We generally bring a notebook and a camera. This allows us to observe and record as we go.

Fortunately for us, we live only a few minutes from both the Appalachian Trail and the Delaware Water Gap National Park. This gives us some excellent opportunities to experience nature at her best, but every part of the country offers its own wonders. Whether turtles or prairie dogs, flamingos or otters, all offer wonderful situations for children to observe the world around them.

My daughter has recently learned that by just entering the forest and standing still and quiet, she can begin to enter nature's secret kingdom. Within a few minutes, out from beneath a tree runs a tiny chipmunk. Back in a few minutes with an acorn, the tiny creature seems to disappear into the base of a tree. A more careful inspection reveals the opening to a tunnel. It must be an ornate tunneling system because within seconds, our little friend reappears, this time from another hole in the ground. We were fascinated to see that the tunnel had at least four "emergency doors" that we could find.. And to think that this tiny brain thought of all this without engineers or safety inspectors or anything. Kind of makes you wonder...

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