We finally made it to the park today, despite Bella being up with a stomach ache half the night. She did well and we had a marvelous time. First we fed the ducks and geese a bit. Rice chex. Bella wanted to feed the cereal directly to them. She chased a mallard around in circles trying to get him to take the food from her hand, and finally, before I could stop her, offered it to a Canadian goose, who wasn't very careful about how he snatched it. She was unruffled.
Next we set to work finding examples of the three types of conifer leaves: needle-like, scale-like, and awl-like. The conifers were far outnumbered by deciduous trees, but we, amazingly found the three different varieties all in the same spot. Ethan and Anna Kate drew the different needles, also observing the pollen cones and seed cones and drawing those. Our tree identification book left much to be desired, so they were also drawing the trees' shapes, needles in actual size, and as many other details as possible in hopes that a ranger at the ranger station might be able to identify them for us. As they were finishing, a ranger came in with a school group to the picnic area behind us, and I ventured over to ask him. He identified the trees for us and also gave me a mini history lesson on the tragedy of the American chestnut tree. Fascinating stuff.
Rose was being Rose this whole time, living in her world of daisies and rainbows and drawing in her nature journal. I'm pretty sure she drew a goose - as for the rest, I'm sure it will be a surprise. She also found another tent caterpillar. There's always a good supply of those, which is probably a good thing, since she has a tendency to love them to death.
We then began to try to identify some angiosperm trees. Once again the guide was not a great deal of help. We managed to identify oaks,maples, and sweetgums, and learn about the flowers on dogwoods. We hiked around the lake, and found lovely pink flowers that looked like honeysuckle - and later at home discovered, they were indeed wild pink honeysuckle - pink?! who knew?
Bella enjoyed picking up random rocks, continuing to make friend with any ducks she met and feeding them with the "one for Bella, one for the duck" method. The children had great fun sliding out over the lake on a fallen log until their feet touched the water. They decided that they were lucky to be homeschooled because school kids would not have been allowed to do this. Some days you win...