Cultivating a Love of Nature with Children

The clouds are disappearing and the temperatures are warming, which means the summer months are just within reach in the Pacific Northwest! Take a book or two along as you and your kiddos head to the park or the beach. You’ll satisfy the curiosity of those little scientists and enhance your family’s appreciation for our astounding natural world. Just take care to keep those library books from falling into Puget Sound!

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
Recommended for ages 2+
Revel in the warm glow of these stunning illustrations as you and your child read about summer’s gradual transition to autumn. The main character chats easily with the elements and creatures of the natural world, creating a sense of friendliness and compassion between humans and nature. Continue reading “Cultivating a Love of Nature with Children”

Art Books in Nature

West Seattle’s Camp Long will be hosting another fabulous event Aug 20-21. Visit the park to walk in the woods, witness musical performances across diverse genres, or participate in art activities, writing workshops and open mics, juggling, costumed hikes through the forest, and naturalist events. The festival also features the “Museum of Sound” where artists will occupy Camp Long’s eight rustic cabins with installations of sound, music and art. For two whole days Camp Long will be a hotbed of creative energy sure to inspire artists and nonartists alike. Continue reading “Art Books in Nature”

Extreme outdoors

Although I’m fairly wimpy in “real life,” I enjoy the vicarious experience of reading about other peoples’ travails in harsh climates. Here are some favorite tales of true adventure and survival (with a bit of history thrown in):

Cruelest MilesThe Cruelest Miles by Gay Salisbury
When isolated Nome, Alaska, was struck by a diphtheria epidemic in 1925, the serum needed to treat the disease was 1,000 miles away. Twenty teams of sled dogs raced through minus 60-degree temperatures to transport the medicine. This gripping account describes their epic quest, a journey that later inspired the annual Iditarod race. Continue reading “Extreme outdoors”

Mushroom Mania

Chanterelles picked by me from an undisclosed location. Photo by Abby B., used with permission

Autumn in Seattle means rain and lots of it. While many Seattle residents are indoors moaning about the miserable weather, a few of us are rubbing our hands with glee as the drops fall. We are the wild mushroom hunters, and this is our favorite time of year. On any given fall day after it rains, we’ll be out in the woods stalking chanterelles (pictured above), hedgehogs, king boletes (commonly known as porcini) and many other delicious wild edibles found in abundance throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Some people think it’s crazy to pick and eat wild mushrooms; “Aren’t  you afraid of getting poisoned?” is a common question. My response is that I only eat mushrooms that I am 100% sure are tasty edibles. A good rule of thumb is: When in doubt, throw it out! The Seattle Public Library owns many helpful guidebooks Continue reading “Mushroom Mania”


image-of-a-man-walking-in-paris-courtesy-of-anuntrainedeyeTaking a walk is such a mundane activity, but there is still something mysterious and wonderful about it, even if it only takes us around the neighborhood. One notices a relaxation of pace and shortening of perspective, perhaps — objects often seem farther away in a car or the bus, bracketed, as it were, by the window.  And if the opportunity to take a longer walk occurs — a hike, say, or a trek — what a life-changing experience that can be!  Things glimpsed ordinarily and daily become new and seductive.  Our framework for understanding is skewed — objects stranger than they appear — just because we are strolling by.

The experience of walking has attracted many notables in literature, and they have given us accounts of their transformations. Herewith, a sampling:

cover-of-patrick-leigh-fermors-a-time-of-giftsPatrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of gifts:  On foot to Constantinople : from the hook of Holland to the middle Danube and Between the woods and the water: On foot to Constantinople: the middle Danube to the Iron Gates
These wonderful books narrate the author’s adventures as a nineteen-year-old before the onset of World War II, when he set out from Holland and walked through Europe to Constantinople.  His artist’s eye sees detail like no other, and his descriptions have a Continue reading “Walkabout”