We love to take walks through our Oklahoma City neighborhood, especially during spring when flowers and trees are in bloom. The kids can get laser-focused on just making it to the park, so we play games along the way to make every step of our journey a little more meaningful.
Walks are full of teachable moments and there is no greater classroom than firsthand experience, especially outdoors. On Saturday, we counted how many different colors of Iris we saw during our walk and photographed each one. When we came across a flower that wasn’t an Iris we stopped and talked about it, too.
This is Bridgette on her lavender Schwinn, which was actually Juliette’s third bicycle! Now, my baby is riding it. I just savor these precious kids! I am always aware that with each passing day, they are one step closer to springing from the nest. Like the little birds in the nest we found on Easter, one day, they’ll fly away!
That’s why all these teachable moments are so important to me. I want my children to embrace the fullness of life that is so illuminated through art and nature. I feel grateful that there is a constant and ready supply of both in Oklahoma City. We turn walks into hikes in the urban core. When we pass public art, we pull off the road and into parking lots to discuss it. I try to explain its value and purpose to my kids.
Opportunities for local adventure all around us!
This white iris is growing in Perle Mesta Park. Mesta was the daughter of the man who founded the big Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. She was known for throwing lavish parties in Washington D.C. and at one time served as ambassador to the tiny country of Luxembourg. The Mesta Park Neighborhood Association has done an amazing job with this park. It’s an anchor for the ‘hood, and even features a sandpit for volleyball that people use all the time.
In addition to irises, we saw a ton of roses in bloom. In the fall, people like to drive through historic neighborhoods in Oklahoma City to see the foliage on all the tall trees, but they really should come in spring to see the 40-year-old rose bushes in bloom. They are just amazing!
|Hey, Shirley, this is Squirrely. You got your ears on?|
More teachable moments for my kids arrive via urban wildlife, which I really appreciate since we do live in the concrete jungle. This weekend, we’ve seen Robins, Bluejays, Cardinals, Pigeons and squirrels in ample supply. Butterflies galore, too. (By the way, yes, I’m capitalizing the names of plants, birds and butterflies, so take that, capitalization patrol!)
We’ve had a lot of rain lately as well as the promise of really bad weather including tornadoes. It’s like the squirrels, birds and butterflies are watching the Weather Channel or something. While they are already highly adapted to this urban environment they are downright fearless when it comes to digging for food in our yard. Either that, or I’ve just become a regular fixture with my camera and they’re not afraid of me.
I took this picture on Friday at dusk. This is the momma Robin whose baby birds we discovered in a nest in a single privet in the front yard on Easter Sunday. We were hunting eggs when Robert mentioned that I might want to carefully back out of the flower bed because there was a bird in a nest about six inches from my head. The kids were absolutely thrilled to make this discovery.
|This is the same Robin. She’s giving me the once over.|
Discovering a bird sitting on eggs while we were all hunting eggs on Easter Sunday is a moment our family will never forget. For a split second all five of us stood there staring at each other slightly perplexed over the highly unlikely, though plausible chance that we might have grabbed an actual bird egg while hunting colored eggs. I cherish these moments of intimacy and laughter. I wish they weren’t so rare. The dry obligations of life really get in the way, people.
|Sullivan catching butterflies.|
On Saturday, as all of Oklahoma was gearing up for the threat of horrible weather, the kids and I set out on a two-block adventure to count all the different types of flowers we could find. We didn’t get very far. Just three blocks away we discovered a butterfly encampment in a white lilac bush in Teresa’s garden. For nearly an hour the kids tried to catch butterflies.
This yellow butterfly is an Orange Sulphur Butterfly or Alfalfa Butterfly. Bridgette gave it her own name: Honey. Sweet! With its lime green eyes, yellow wings and pink legs I think we could call it Malibu Barbie Butterfly!
I couldn’t help but recall the poem, The Butterfly, a popular selection in Holocaust literature. It was written by a child, Pavel Friedman, living in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.
The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone…
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ‘way up high.
It went away I’m sure because it wished to
kiss the world goodbye.
|Those are some nice antennas you have there, sir.|
|That’s a lovely polka dot dress, miss. Might I inquire where you purchased it? (This is a Buckeye Butterfly.)|
After the kids and I returned home from the Lilac Bush Adventure, I grabbed my iPad and returned to take a picture of a butterfly for Instagram. After about 50 tries, I got a picture of the wingspan on a Viceroy Butterfly. It looks very similar to the Monarch Butterfly, which passes through Oklahoma City every year on its way to the Michoacán Forest in Central Mexico. If you’re not on Instagram, you can see the picture on my Flickr account.
|Bridgette holds a nest with a broken shell. Robin-egg blue is one of nature’s best colors!!|
On Sunday, we took the kids to the new Children’s Garden in the newly renovated Myriad Gardens in Downtown Oklahoma City. We found this tiny nest blowing around the outskirts of the garden and nearby a broken robin egg shell. I hope the baby birds learned to fly! This, of course, is what I hope for my own children. Next Turtle Tuesday I’ll post more about our adventure to the Children’s Garden and also Oklahoma City’s Martin Nature Park. Both are just terrific!
To learn more about butterflies in Oklahoma City, check out the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife’s Outdoor Store, which offers a great butterfly guidebook.