- All writings and photographs on this site are, unless otherwise noted, © Michael D. Barton.
- Wednesday photo of the week: fall into nature
- Monday thought of the week: a way to make itself known
- Wednesday photo of the week: she’s lichen it, revisited
- Getting to know Pacific Northwest nature: a tour with Portland’s Volcano Lands
- Upcoming nature events in Portland
- Monday thought of the week: a deep and irresistible urge
- Wednesday photo of the week: tree time
- BOOK: Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World
- Monday thought of the week: especially you
- BOOK: Flashlight
While wilderness is valuable, nature isn’t limited to it. You can find nature in places dominated by people: weeds recolonizing disturbed ground on sidewalks, hawks nesting on bridges, trees rising from city streets, insects almost everywhere. Nature finds a way to make itself known, even when people have tried their best to suppress it. Finding and appreciating these organisms in even the most urban environments can help you remember that people are never alone–other species are trying to make their way as well.
- Shannon Brescher Shea, “Valuable Lessons What I Want to Teach My Son About Nature,” The New Nature Movement (September 10, 2014)
See “she’s lichen it” from October 2013.
I’ve been a reader of biologist Ivan Phillipsen’s blog Wild Pacific Northwest ever since I first came across it. He exudes a love and passion for the nature that surrounds us, and the site contains a wealth of information on specific nature topics (most notably profiles of representative species) as well as stellar nature photography.
In their twelve-passenger van, they take tourists and Portlanders alike to many of the natural destinations that make this region of the world so special: the Columbia River Gorge, Tillamook Bay, the Northern Oregon Coast (Cannon Beach/Ecola State Park), Mount St. Helens, Silver Falls State Park, on a birding adventure in Portland, a wildflower excursion in the Columbia Gorge, Saddle Mountain, and Sauvie Island.
Recently, the four us were fortunate to go along on a tour of Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park. We were joined by a local photographer, and a family from out-of-town (a mom and two daughters that needed something to do for the day while dad was having a job interview).
We have been to Cannon Beach many times before, but this time was different. We had our very own naturalist to share his knowledge of the natural history that could be seen there.
Looking at some of the birds that inhabit Haystack Rock through a scope was very cool, as well as learning about the geological forces behind the rocky and weathered landscape.
My son and the two girls had fun exploring the nooks and crannies of Sitka spruces on our hike down a trail to Indian Beach, and there too spent a good time getting dirty and playing in the water of a creek leading into the ocean, Afton included!
We enjoyed the sun, some cool ocean breezes, the views, and the lunch that Ivan provided. Even better, no driving allowed for a more relaxed time and ability to look at the windows during the drive rather than focusing on the road.
For those visiting the Portland area or even those who already live here, I highly recommend booking a nature tour with Volcano Lands! Visit their website for trip details (such as what to expect for hikes and certain age requirements) and to view their calendar of upcoming trips.
Hike series with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge
Fall nature classes at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve
September 1-30 | Swift Watch | Audubon Society of Portland
September 19 | Kids Nature Night Out: Coyote Connections | Tualatin Hills Nature Park
September 2o | Audubon Story Time: Swifty’s Big Flight | Audubon Society of Portland
September 20 | Sturgeon Festival | City of Vancouver
September 20 | Nature Crafts & Games Circle at Reed College’s Community Day | Johnson Creek Watershed Council
September 21 | Sunday Trailways: Westside Regional Trail | THPRD
September 21 | Elowah & Upper McCord Falls Kids Hike | Friends of the Columbia Gorge
September 24-30 | Take a Child Outside Week | National
September 26 | Kids Nature Night Out: Night Tracks | Cooper Mountain Nature Park
September 27 | Animal tracking for beginners (Oxbow Regional Park) | Metro
September 27 | Classroom Discovery Days: Birds of a Feather | Tryon Creek State Park
September 27 | 4th Annual Nadaka Community Festival | Friends of Nadaka
September 27 | Park After Dark: Coyotes | Cooper Mountain Nature Park
September 28 | Sunday Parkways: Southwest Portland | PP&R/Metro
October 3 | Dirksen Nature Park Spooky Stream Side Community Celebration | Tualatin Riverkeepers
October 4 | Fall Colors Paddle | Tualatin Riverkeepers
October 4-5 | BirdFest 2014 | Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
October 5 | Nature Days in the Park: Willow Creek Greenway | THPRD
October 11 | Third Annual Birds & Brew Festival | Fernhill Wetlands
October 17 | Kids Nature Night Out: Grossology | Tualatin Hills Nature Park
October 18 | Park After Dark: Sounds of the Night | Tualatin Hills Nature Park
October 19 | Wahclella Falls Kids Hike | Friends of the Columbia Gorge
October 24 | Kids Nature Night Out: Witch’s Potion | Cooper Mountain Nature Park
October 25 | Nature Days in the Park: Stoller Creek Greenway | THPRD
October 25 | Grand opening of Nature Play Area at Westmoreland Park & Salmon Celebration | Portland Parks & Recreation
October 25 | Native Forest Hike With Marcy Houle | Forest Park Conservancy
October 25 | Fall Family Field Trip Day | Columbia Springs
October 25 | Halloween Night Flight | Audubon Society of Portland
October 24 | Owl Prowl | Columbia Slough Watershed Council
November 8 | Newt Day | Tualatin Hills Nature Park
November 14 | Park After Dark: Owl Prowl | Tualatin Hills Nature Park
November 16 | Nature Days in the Park: Foothills Park | THPRD
November 21 | Kids Nature Night Out: Geology Rocks | Tualatin Hills Nature Park
November 21 | Park After Dark: Owl Prowl | Cooper Mountain Nature Park
December 12 | Kids Nature Night Out: Frozen | Tualatin Hills Nature Park
December 13 | Park After Dark: Owl Prowl | Tualatin Hills Nature Park
Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling): Nature Days in the Park and Nature Mobile from Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District’s Natural Resources, Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden, Story and Strolls and Guided Nature Walks at Tryon Creek State Park, Ladybug Nature Walks with Portland Parks & Recreation, Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Bird Walks for adults and kids through Backyard Bird Shop, free field trips with Audubon Society of Portland volunteers, Library events with The Bug Chicks, Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council, Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm, and Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA.
– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Wednesday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the fourth Friday of every month, 5-8pm
– FREE admission at the Portland Children’s Museum the first Friday of every month, 4-8pm
– FREE admission at the Oregon Historical Society & Museum every day for Multnomah County residents
*My friend Laura posts a monthly listing of kid and family-friendly events of natural, scientific, and cultural interest. September’s list is here.
When we see a child playing with a flower, or in the dirt, or skipping or playing tag, we should remind ourselves that what we are looking at is the child-like result of a deep and irresistible urge to interact with and have knowledge of the world and everything in it.
- Bob Hughes, Evolutionary Playwork (New York: Routledge, 2013)
BOOK: Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World
Ben Hewitt, Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World (Boston: Roost Books, 2014), 176 pp.
Publisher’s description: In this most personal of his books to date, Ben Hewitt shows us how small, mindful decisions about day-to-day life can lead to greater awareness of the world in our backyards and beyond. In telling the story of his sons’ unconventional education in the fields and forests surrounding his family’s northern Vermont farm, he demonstrates that the sparks of learning are all around us, just waiting to be discovered. No matter where we live, Home Grown reminds us that learning at any age is a lifelong process, and that the best education is never confined to a classroom. Hewitt’s story will inspire you to reclaim passion, curiosity, and creativity, not only for your children, but for yourself.
… I want you to see that it doesn’t take any special skills or training to be an outdoor parent. You don’t have to been physically fit, like cold weather or know the names of every bug your kid discovers. All you need is a willingness to get outdoors, go exploring and to take your kids with you. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Even you. Especially you.
Lizi Boyd, Flashlight (San Fransisco: Chronicle Books, 2014), 40 pp.
Publisher’s description: Inside a tent it’s cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images and using a spare yet dramatic palette, artist Lizi Boyd has crafted a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals that there is magic in the darkness. We just have to look for it.