backyard field guide
One of my favorite parts of Crossing to Safety is the description of how Charity's mother, Aunt Emily, orchestrated summer for her children when they'd go off into the woods for summer:
"Aunt Emily believes in the freedom of summer. She doesn't much care what the children do so long as they do something, and know what they are doing. It is idleness and randomness of mind that she cannot abide. When the children go on a hike, she packs bird and flower guides in their knapsacks, and quizzes them on their return to see if they have learned anything. When she accompanies them on an overnight camping trip, sleeping in her own worn pup tent, they can count on instructive fireside talks on the stars. And on rainy days such as this she sits like a confident spider in the midst of her web until boredom drives all the children on the Point to her porch, where she reads to them or teaches them French..."
So brilliant, and so how I wish I was more like as a mother - wish being the operative word in that sentence (I seem to spend my time engaged in activities like fishing gum from the jaws of the dog rather than reading Hiawatha to my children). But we did have a brief Aunt Emily moment yesterday afternoon, after I came across the idea on this great-but-now-defunct blog. The plan is to start with our small yard and then move on to our street. Then we will probably have lost all interest but hey, for now it's a fantastic plan and one that will keep us busy this Thanksgiving week.