A Day of Outdoor Learning

It started innocently enough, I was going to check the beehives and plant some of herbs and strawberries. Instead it morphed into an outdoor adventure that lasted for over six hours straight with only a short break for lunch. We don’t do things halfway around here.

Let’s Make a Waterfall, Creek, and Pond

I checked on the bees, which appeared to be doing fine in their new beehive. We had caught a swarm the day before and they seemed to be settling in well. (Unfortunately they later swarmed again, abandoning their new digs for reasons unknown) As I headed away from them, I stopped to look at a large piece of tree root protruding from the ground…


I looked at it and saw quite clearly that it was a bridge. “Look Emily, look at this tree root. Wouldn’t it be perfect as a bridge across a pond?”

I dug a little and began to envision a grand project – a winding creek with a waterfall at the top. A large pool here, an side inlet over there, even another peninsula of sorts with water flowing underneath a portion of it.

Peninsulas and Islands

Emily added her own details. “We need an island, Mama.”

At first I didn’t want to do an island, if only because I was afraid it would consume the small pool I had marked out with a shovel. The answer? A bigger pool of course.

We got to work, me with a large shovel and Emily with some smaller hand tools.

We dug under that big tree root, sculpted an island and enlarged the lower pond twice…


We got rather dirty…

Emily is standing on the peninsula hamming up for the camera. Look at those dirty legs!

Emily is standing on the peninsula hamming up for the camera. Look at those dirty legs!

And I managed to acquire a bright pink sunburn.

Fairies and Borrowers

I pointed to the peninsula we had constructed. Emily had carved a waterway carefully under a tree root…


“Emily, we could put a fairy house there on the peninsula.”

“Or one for the Borrowers who live in our house, Mama.”

“Why yes, it could be their summer house!”

Later we settled on putting the Borrowers on the island and calling it Borrower Island and the Tinker fairies (as in Tinkerbell) on the peninsula and naming it Tinker Peninsula.

“The Borrowers will need a boat to get to the island, Mama.” Emily pointed out.

“Yep, they will. I guess you’ll be in charge of that.”

We dug for several hours before our neighbor drove up and asked us to come with her and see a baby dove.

Lessons on Doves – Omnivorous? Herbivorous?

We live close, just kitty-corner across the street, so we went over and met the baby dove, huddled nervously at the foot of the house wall. Emily asked if we could name it and the answer was yes, so she said, “If it’s a girl, we should call it Daisy and if it is a boy, Bill.”

“Why not just name it Daisy Bill? Then we’ve got it covered.” I suggested.

We began to speculate on what the bird ate and that prompted an internet search after lunch to discover that, like the chickens, doves are omnivores.

Can I Dig Up the Bee?

“Hey Mama? Remember that bee I buried the other day?” Emily asked as I continued to dig away on the pond. “Could I dig it up? I want to study its parts.”

Like I would say no to that.

She became distracted with other things, but I have several books on the subject so perhaps today we will pull it out and discuss the anatomy of honeybees. She’s been rather entranced with them since the first bee swarm on Sunday when she was allowed to hold a drone. Obviously bigger than the female workers, drones do not have stingers. Unlike her ten-year-old friend, she calmly held it, grinning widely.

Plantin’ Strawberries and Herbs

We had dug up quite a few plants from the old house and while I had been digging into the pond the images of those poor plants sitting there waiting to be planted had been haunting me. So I enlisted Emily’s help in planting the assortment of herbs and strawberry plants.

She is quite familiar with all forms of plants and know the correct level to dig and plant them in. Just enough to cover the roots, but not smother the plants. “What else do plants need besides sun and good dirt?” I asked her.

“Water!” she crowed and ran for the hose. I awarded her the responsibility of watering the newly re-homed plants. What kid doesn’t like to play with water?

There Are Bubbles All Around Us

As we lounged in a bath, scrubbing the layers of dirt and mud away, Emily said, “You know Mama, there are bubbles all around us.”

“Really? Tell me more about these bubbles. What are they made of?”


“Oh yes, those are called molecules.” I reminded her, thinking that at her age I had no clue about such things.

“And our bodies are made up of discs.”

“Do you mean cells?” I asked her.

“Yes! CELLS!” She went on to describe what sugar molecules looked like and how they changed when you put them in water. “But then, when the water evaporates, they turn back into the way they looked before the water!”

I’d hazard a guess that we are up to speed on the science topics these days. What do you think?

Attracting Others for Group Learning (or How to Get Neighbor Kids to Dig Holes For You)

I knew that all of our activities, especially the pond project, would attract the neighbor kids. Ten-year-old Anthony was especially interested. He has already told me he likes to garden, so I knew that once school let out we would have at least one of them in our yard. Sure enough, given time, they multiplied.

I felt a little like Tom Sawyer with the whitewashed fence…


Given a little luck, these young men might do a good bit of the work for us. And I can’t say I wouldn’t mind. This morning I’m one large lump of pain – extending from the top of my head down to my left Achilles heel. My body is screaming obscenities at me and saying, “You are going to be 43 in a couple of weeks, STUPID, not 23!”

Yesterday sure was fun, though.

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