Great Kids, Great Outdoors

We spent Thanksgiving in western New York, where my father and stepmother live. Each time we visit, especially at this time of year, a song by Dar Williams plays on repeat in my head: “There’s another part of the country with a land that gently creaks and thudsWhere the heavy snows make faucets leak in…

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A flock of wild turkeys has been eating the dropped apples under the ancient apple trees in the field behind our house. At least once a day, they emerge single-file from the woods in back. They feast companionably on the fermenting fruit. Then they parade off in a line, crossing the road by the mailbox…

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A couple of years ago, Jim picked up a book he thought I’d like at a library sale. It was a thick old book, stained and worn. At the time, I barely glanced at it as he put it on my shelf. Over time, though, its title caught my eye: Handbook of Nature-Study. Above the…

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“Magical power,marvelous action!Chopping wood,carrying water….” These lines from a 1,000-year-old Zen Buddhist poem came to me last Sunday while Virgil and I stacked wood. I handed him a chunk of wood from a wheelbarrow and he flung it onto a growing stack along the side of the garage. We emptied the wheelbarrow and pushed it…

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Last month I promised to write more about the Leonid meteor showers, which are scheduled to appear on our cosmic horizon on Tuesday, November 17. Astronomers call the Leonids “the most famous of the unreliable showers.” They’re named for the constellation Leo, where they appear to originate. In the night sky, Leo belongs in what…

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One glorious day. Sometimes it’s all you get. We’ve had very few outdoor adventures together as a family since summer ended, in spite of our vows to the contrary. School and work limit our excursions to weekends, which is OK, except that all fall we’ve stacked our weekends with obligations. Any day we manage to…

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“Kids Watching More Television” blared the headline in my local paper last week. Nielsen, the company that tracks TV viewing, had issued a report on the average hours per week that children spent in front of a TV screen during the last quarter of 2008. Another headline — “Toddlers watch 32 hours of TV a…

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Later today, a ninja warrior and a king with a cape will leave our house and walk from door to door with friends who may have reinvented themselves as witches or a ghosts for a night. On this last evening before the time changes, we’ll start our journey as daylight fades. But soon the edges…

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Back in August, I made a family appointment. We’d just seen the Perseids, the annual mid-August meteor shower, on our summer vacation. Writing about them here, I learned about other annual showers, like the Orionids, which appear to originate from within the Orion constellation on their annual late-fall swing past Earth. We wrote “meteor showers”…

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We had a guest last weekend – Uncle Rik, who came all the way from Washington State to hang out with Ursula and Virgil, and maybe also squeeze in a few moments with their parents. We had big plans for his visit: Ursula, who has just started fencing lessons, wanted to take him to a…

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