#OptOutside at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

Last Friday was REI’s #OptOutside push – they closed all their stores for Black Friday, and paid their employees to get outside instead. They encouraged others to spend the day in nature instead of shopping. Not that we’re a shopping family at all, but how could we not #OptOutside too! I took my kids (my wife had to work, unfortunatley) to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Sherwood, just 15 minutes south of Portland. It was cold, but beautiful out. We saw four deer, a couple of salamanders, and thousands of geese flying in and out of the water at the refuge, as well as scores of other families out getting some fresh air. Enjoy the photos!

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Nature Day in the Park at A.M. Kennedy Park

In mid-November I took my kids to A.M. Kennedy Park in Beaverton for a nature program with THPRD. Their Nature Days in the Park programs in the fall, winter, and spring seasons are for teaching folks who live near certain parks about the nature that can be found in those parks. While it had been less than ideal weather that week, this afternoon turned out particularly nice. Thus, I was surprised to learn that the three of us were part of less than a handful that showed up to learn something new. We had fun though, and it was nice to catch up with some old coworkers from when I worked at Tualatin Hills Nature Center. Enjoy the photos!

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BOOK REVIEW: B is for Bear: A Natural Alphabet

I’ve posted here before about Hannah Viano’s first two books: S is for Salmon: A Pacific Northwest Alphabet and Arrow to Alaska: A Pacific Northwest Adventure. Her new book, which will appeal to a larger audience since it is not focused specifically on the Pacific Northwest, provides the same style of colorfully dynamic paper-cut illustrations to teach young kids their letters and about nature at the same time.

Hannah Viano, B is for Bear: A Natural Alphabet (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 2015), 32 pp.

Publisher’s description A is for Acorn; B is for Bear; C is for Cloud. Celebrated paper artist Hannah Viano has created this beautiful alphabet book that will appeal to children as well as adults. The flora, fauna, and landscape elements in this book are found throughout North America, so readers around the country will connect with Viano’s gorgeous art and text that are both scientific and poetic.

Each letter is paired with either an animal, plant, or other natural feature and Viano gives a brief but informative factoid about it. Here are two samples from the book for O and R:

My favorite image in the book, however, is for the letter K, which stands for kids. Viano shows several kids climbing in a tree with the caption: “What is another creature that belongs outdoors? Kids!”Yes indeed, humans are animals too, and outdoor time is important for our well-being as any bear or otter. Kudos to Viano for slipping in that little nod to getting more children outside and into nature. And kudos as well for another beautiful nature book for kids.


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Monday thought of the week: cosmic family tree

A thought:

Your mom wasn’t the only one responsible for your birth. It was your grandmother, and, before that, your great grandmother and great-great-grandmother. Long before that, it was the long, unbroken chain of mammal mothers, reptile mothers, and amphibian mothers. We also owe deep thanks to our fish mothers and the countless other sea creatures and bacteria that gave rise to them even further back in time. Earth Mother gave birth to the first life, and the Great Cosmic Mother birthed the first stars. You can think about it as a huge family tree, with each branch being a different ancestor. And on this cosmic family tree, from the tips of the topmost branches to the deepest roots, it’s mothers all the way down! Without them, you and I wouldn’t be here, and neither would all the other wondrous creatures on this planet. Most important of all, the journey is far from over. Every plant and animal alive today, including us, is part of this journey, and nobody can say for sure how things are going to turn out. So you can make a big difference in the future of the universe.

– Scott Sampson, How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2015), p. 141-2

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Wednesday photo of the week: rosy cheeks


Rosy cheeks on a trip to Crater Lake National Park last weekend, where my son used his Every Kid in a Park pass:


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Monday thought of the week: expectations

A thought:

Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.

– David Suzuki, “Outdoor fun is good for kids and the planet,” David Suzuki Foundation (July 22, 2010)

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Wednesday photo of the week: every kid in a park

The new federal program to provide a free National Parks pass* to every 4th grader in the country is called Every Kid in a Park. Visit everykidinapark.gov to sign your 4th grader up, and they can exchange their online printed pass for a nice card like Patrick is holding below. The passes are good for the student’s family as well, and last through September 2016. My son got his at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a quick visit for Portland families. You can follow Every Kid in a Park on Facebook, too!


* The passes are good for all federal public lands, not just National Park Service sites, such as the US Forest Service, and the national wildlife refuge system. Learn more about all the participating agencies here.

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Monday thought of the week: nature’s original

A thought:

A sense of curiosity is nature’s original school of education.

– Smiley Blanton

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Upcoming nature events in Portland

Winter break is coming – here are nature based option for kids

Fall programming from the Tillamook Forest Center

Fall hike series with the Forest Park Conservancy

Hike series with Portland branch of Hike It Baby

Hike series with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge

Hike series with Oregon Wild

Fall nature programming from THPRD

Fall nature programming from the Friends of Tryon Creek

Free Skills Series from Rewild Portland (every month)

Autumn bird walks with Backyard Bird Shop (p. 5)

October-November | Exhibit: Forest Art | World Foresty Center

Oct. 10-Jan. 10, 2016 | Exhibit – Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection | Portland Art Museum

November 15 | Nature Days in the Park: A.M. Kennedy Park | THPRD

November 16 | Urban Coyote Talk | Friends of Nadaka Nature Park

November 19 | Book talk: Jack Nesbit on Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Pacific Northwest | Powell’s City of Books

November 20 | Film: Designing America & Portland: The Olmsted Legacy | Portland Parks & Recreation

November 21 | Guided Nature Walk | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

November 21-22 | Wild Arts Festival | Audubon Society of Portland

November 22 | Thanksgiving Walk at Oxbow Regional Park | Metro

November 23 | Give feedback on The Intertwine’s new Daycation App from 3-5pm on the first floor of the David Evans & Associates building (2100 SW River Pkwy, Suite 450 Portland, OR 97201) | The Intertwine

December 2 | Owl Prowl | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

December 9 | Our Common Ground Film Series: The Olmsted Vision: Past, Present and Future | The Intertwine

December 19 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

December 20 | Winter Solstice Walk at Canemah Bluff Nature Park | Metro

January 9 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

February 20 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling):
Nature Days in the Park and Nature Mobile from THPRD’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
Audubon Story Time (1st/3rd Saturdays starting May 2nd
Free field trips with Audubon Society of Portland volunteers
Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council
Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm
Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA
Tillamook Tales at the Tillamook Forest Center

Did you know?
– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Thursday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the first Thursday 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. November’s list is here.

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Weekend guided hike in Forest Park

Last Saturday, the kids and I joined a small group of folks for a guided hike in Forest Park, led by Marcy Houle, author of One City’s Wilderness: Portland’s Forest Park. She was a bona fide expert on this park – sharing so much about its history and features. The walk was put on by the Forest Park Conservancy (check here for upcoming hike opportunities). We started on Firelane 7 at the Springville Road parking area, then took the Trillium Trail to the Wildwood Trail. My daughter got tired and fussy, so while the rest of the group continued on, we cut back early via the Oil Lane Road trail back to Firelane 7. We had a good time, but we were definitely tired by the end. Enjoy the photos!

IMG_4722 IMG_4724 IMG_4725 IMG_4726

Witch’s Butter fungus:IMG_4728 IMG_4729

I often fall behind to take photos.IMG_4731 IMG_4732

Xylaria hypoxylon (stag’s horn fungus):

IMG_4734 IMG_4735

Marcy reading from One City’s Wilderness:IMG_4737 IMG_4738 IMG_4740 IMG_4741 IMG_4742 IMG_4743 IMG_4746 IMG_4747 IMG_4748

We came across this and another stick fort:IMG_4749 IMG_4750 IMG_4752 IMG_4754

My daughter conked out on my back:IMG_4757 IMG_4758 IMG_4759 IMG_4762 IMG_4763

And a banana slug:IMG_4764

Warming up in the car before driving home:IMG_4766

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