be amazed!

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First of all, it’s been a joy and a delight to watch kitty-kitty Walter (our new pet) get used to his new surroundings.  He is curious and “literally plays with everything”, says Dave.  You see in the photo that he is being tempted by Sherlock’s twitching tail.

Second of all, it’s 8:07 in the morning and I’m the only one awake!!  Seth NEVER sleeps past 7 and most of the time is up even earlier.  I just found him sleeping in the addition on the couch.  He spent the night in there because of the air conditioning.  So I wonder, is he still asleep because 1) he didn’t sleep well? or, 2) he COULD finally sleep peacefully out of his hot upstairs bedroom?  Whatever the reason, it’s nice to sit here and type………….

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“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”  Psalm 16:11 (thank you, husband, for sending along the verse)

I was thinking this morning about the enjoyable fruits of the Holy Spirit, those only-from-above giftings of God to our souls.  In those oftentimes rare/unnoticed moments of deep spirituality when we find ourselves really able to love outside of ourselves in a mysterious way.  We have joy,  and it is unexplainable, gentleness toward every living creature, peace, beyond comprehension!  And, patience like our *big brother* Job.  These beautiful character qualities/fruits aren’t from us (we cannot muster them up, they cannot be faked) and are the Holy Spirit within us, given to us, and no reason for pride or boasting.

….the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22

For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28

Alas, sometimes it’s just simply hard to breath “down here”.  And this is the reason we pour over the Scriptures as much as possible, and remember, and think of Him, and pray, we do these things to stay connected, to stay reminded.  To stay breathing.

“But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”  ~CS Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia

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Home on Earth, real Home “in the sky”……….

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We have had such hot days lately, it was pleasant to sit with my latest Newbury medal winner (I’m attempting to read them all) while the children swam in the pond……..

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….and to have Jacob walk down the hill to show me a cool caterpillar.  Thanks, Jake, for grilling us all a nice lunch yesterday!!!

At my house yesterday there were all these people:  Rich, myself, Michael, Jacob, Ethan, Caleb T, Grace, Kylee, Brittnee, David, Caleb, Jack, Seth, and Sarah.  But not all at once.  Some came for a while and then left.  Some worked all day and then came home.  🙂

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Yesterday afternoon on the couch, David helped me identify a bug using the internet.  It didn’t take us long, but seeing the different insects online filled me with the desire to go back outside to look for even more bugs with the magnifying lens attached to my camera.  It’s such fun to stand over the flowers and plants and search for insects with your eyes……….at first you see “nothing” but little by little you see 100’s of creatures……and much activity.

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This was a small moth, about the size of a fifty-cent piece.  But with my lens I can get a nice close-up.  It’s amazing to see the details.  Observe.  Study.  Be amazed.

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These pretty little white flowers grew in clusters along a thin vine-like stem.

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Meanwhile, Dave was looking in the pond for a big snake but had to make do with a little frog (sitting on his leg next to his thumb for size comparison).  He sat nicely for his portrait.

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This plant has been tearing the skin on my legs my entire life.  It’s just a tad thinner than spaghetti and grows plenteously by our stream.  One direction of the plant doesn’t scratch you, but the other direction, oh it sticks so tightly to your legs and scratches them terribly.  I’ve never identified it’s name, there is a small white flower that grows on it, maybe I can look it up in my flower identification book today.

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a cluster of silvery eggs……so beautiful!

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The band on his tail makes him special.  You can see Ambush bugs to the left of it.

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THIS IS THE BUG I JUST HAD TO FIGURE OUT.  AMBUSH BUG

The other day I saw one gripping a yellow jacket.  The yellow jacket was upside down and dead in its front claws.  It was a sight to see.  And these ambush bugs are all over the flowers right now (especially Joe-pie weed and goldenrod).  I beg you to read the link, you will be amazed.

In a nutshell, it sucks the bodily fluids out of its prey.

As my brother Dave says, “its horrifying”.

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“slurp”

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It would take me a long time to identify all these insects but I sure would like to do it.  Each one has fascinating characteristics and wears the nicest bug-clothes.

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Another ambush bug!

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And this one!  I’ve never seen it before, it was so tiny I only noticed it because I was photographing another bug nearby and saw it waving around first one tissue-paper wing and then the other.

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This bee posed so nicely, I felt as if it was just WAITING to be noticed.   Yes, you’re lovely.

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After I breathlessly captured this photo (I thought it would fly away before I could get close) I talked to my friend Lea Ann and then took the kids to music lessons and football practice.  I spent time walking around the cemetery next to the fields and then met my husband for a quick trip down town for strawberry sundaes, just the two of us, before practice was over.

When we got home, David made a chocolate cake from scratch …….

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……and we had a rain storm.  I sat on the porch to watch it for a while before bedtime…..

If you watch carefully you will see the world light up in a quick flash of lightening.

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And now it’s Wednesday.  Good morning!

You are loved.

walking and cooking

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Seth plays video games every day for a couple hours but his time doing it is controlled by his loving mother to a certain extent.  This morning, he asked if he could have “his time” at 9am and I said, “sure”.  But at 8 he had eaten breakfast, showered and dressed, and he didn’t know what else to do with himself so we went for a walk together.  Grace was awake but Sarah was still sound asleep.  (Seth is an early riser)

It always happens that the boys will pick up a stick and start battle on trees and such.  From Jacob to Seth, they were all the same in that regard (and still are).

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pretty pretty Indian Pipe flower.  The website (linked) adds: America’s eminent poet, Emily Dickinson, called the Indian pipe “the preferred flower of life.” In a letter to Mabel Todd, she confides, “I still cherish the clutch with which I bore it from the ground when a wondering child, and unearthly booty, and maturity only enhances the mystery, never decreases it.

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I told him how to pose on this fallen down birch tree and he was obliging enough to humor me, still with his weapon-of-a-stick in his hand.  He looks pleased.

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He even likes hitting the caps off wild mushrooms with his stick, he calls it mushroom golfing.

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This is that same fallen down birch tree, I wanted to see the wood where the tree broke and fell.  What a wonderful home for God’s smaller creatures.

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little things of interest on the forest floor…..

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He walked barefoot.

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There are even orange mushrooms.

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Big healthy ferns are squeezing in on the path, reminding me of childhood games and forts in the woods.

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Teeny tiny white mushrooms

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some mushrooms had red caps

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This one looked shy.

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mushrooms on a log

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This large mushroom was broken off and on the ground……Seth’s barefoot show how big it was.

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Seth spied these gorgeous Cardinal wildflowers before I did.  They bloom at this time of year on mossy rocks in the stream and I always delight in them.

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Almost home!

He was a good sport and I found myself thinking, “I do so enjoy walks with a child or two or five or seven, and my camera!”

Dinner Tonight:

Crock-Pot Gingered Beef
2 pounds round roast, trimmed
2 onions, sliced
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup ketchup
6 T. brown sugar
3 T. vinegar
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 cup beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

Brown beef on all sides (I skipped this part).  Place sliced onion on the bottom of crock pot, place roast on top.  Mix remaining ingredients in bowl and whisk together.  Pour over roast.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or until meat is tender and can be shredded with a fork.  Pour cooking juices into a saucepan and simmer on the stove until reduced, about 10 minutes.  Serve over the top of the beef.

I haven’t made it in a while but in the notes I wrote “Yum, E approves.”  So I’m hoping he still approves tonight when he gets home from work and eats it for dinner.

Grace and I have been enjoying this today:

Black Bean and Rice Salad
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 onion, chopped, and 4 cloves of garlic, pressed, sautéed until translucent
3 cups rice
salt and pepper

Mix together in a big bowl and serve each portion with a spoon of salsa on top.

Both recipes from my ever-favorite cookbook Saving Dinner, by Leanne Ely

I’ve done lots of laundry (don’t you love hanging clothes outside on the line?) and still have some to fold, which I will do while the Waltons are on TV.  Seth and Sarah are outside playing.  I fell asleep reading a book on the couch with Seth next to me earlier and now Grace is in my spot, reading her book:  Messenger, by Lois Lowry.  She says it’s nice to read a book that doesn’t task the brain like some of the old classics she’s been reading.    I am reading Dead End in Norvelt, which is a Newbury award winner.  I’m almost done with it and it’s been delightful.  I love it.  Maybe you would, too.

 

PS, ANOTHER WALK WITH SETH that’s kinda making me cry right now.

 

 

 

jam mama (part 2)

Ten years ago almost to this very day I wrote a post on my blog which was untitled but included the words…..JAM MAMA……

“You should have seen small Grace
diving into the warm cup of jam
that I set out on the table,
with a loaf of soft white bread from the bakery.
She tore of big chunks of bread
and dipped the majority of it down
into the bright red jam. . . .
there is just nothing like that warm, strawberry taste
. . . .it’s heavenly.

She called me ‘jam-mama’.”
July 12, 2008

Ten years have come and gone……

Grace is 18 now and was at work (as a cashier downtown at the grocery store) yesterday when I walked up the road to “see if there were any raspberries left”.  I determined to really look and really pick every single good enough berry I could find.  This involved lots of bending over and looking underneath the tangle of vines and briars and taking my merry ol’ sweet time.

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I eventually came home with 6 cups.

Incidentally, these berries grow on the side of the road, free for the foraging!  I already have a gallon of them frozen in our chest freezer in the pantry.  Once they ripen, we have to go back every couple of days to pick some more until they are finally all done.  They are productive!

We have a small patch of wild raspberries over by the chicken coop, too, which the chickens love to jump up and eat off the cane.  Then they lay us the most lovely eggs out of appreciation.

The black-cap raspberries grow on the bank by our drive way and under the dead pine tree at the bottom of the yard by the pond.

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I always pick clean but you never know what little creatures may have taken a ride home with the berries.  So I dumped them out to look through them.

I put them in a pan and simmered them until they released all their juice.  I strained out the seeds, measured the juice (2 cups) and added them back to the pan with the same amount of sugar (2 cups).  Brought to a rolling boil for 3 minutes and then beaten with the mixer for another 3 minutes.  Done!  So easy, so satisfying.

I was given the recipe by my very own jam mama, Cindy.

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Jacob said the jelly would taste good on “that cake you made the other day” and Ethan suggested some other baked good and I said “How about homemade biscuits?” And he said YES PLEASE.

I made a double batch of biscuits and we all ate them up right away with the homemade jelly on top.

Everywhere I looked there were children grabbing  another and another biscuit, slathering it with butter and jelly, and walking away with it………

This morning my feet are sticking to the carpet and the floor.

such small creatures….still, so lovely

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This morning David and Caleb left for school on the bus and Ethan and Grace left together in Ethan’s new truck so Ethan could take Grace to the HS before he drove to work and that left Seth, Sarah, and Jacob still at home.  Then, Jacob left for work but texted me 10 minutes later saying, “I’m coming back, I forgot my I.D.”

He was not happy as he tore around the house (all 6 feet 2 inches of him) looking for it.  I finished up what I was doing and told Seth to keep an eye out for the bus so he wouldn’t miss it as I helped Jacob.  “He can’t find his I.D, Seth, do you know where it is?”  “I don’t even know WHAT it is,” he said.  “It’s his picture on a shoe-lace type necklace.”  “For work?”  “Yes”  “I didn’t know he had to have his picture taken for work…….”  Jacob stomped through the room again.  “I ALWAYS PUT IT ON MY DRESSER AND IT’S NOT THERE!”  He’s getting more and more steamed.

“Did you look underneath it?” says Seth……

A minute later I found Seth’s big brother Jacob on the floor looking under his dresser.  Lo and behold….there it was.

I ran up the stairs, “Seth, Seth!! you saved the day!  It was under the dresser!”

21 year old big brother Jacob was right behind me, very relieved, and we found 9 year old little brother Seth waiting for us, doing a slow clap and nodding his head up and down with a knowing smile, because he saved the day.

*****

Yesterday evening there was a house FULL of young people and as I was scrolling Facebook I saw a photo of a PINK praying mantis (young one) and it immediately made me want to go outside and look for insects to photograph.  It’s one of my favorite things to do at 6:00 on a Sunday evening when the house is super loud and crazy and my husband is away on a business trip and any other time, too, really.

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What shiny eyes you have, dragonfly.

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Can you imagine having antenna this long and graceful?  Did you take whiskers from a cat?

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I laugh at bugs because they are so smart.  As soon as they see me they *quick as a wink* hide underneath whatever leaf or grass they are perched upon.  It’s a great game of hide and seek.

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Look at it’s tiny black eye.  Just the tiniest of dots.

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buttercup pedals // heart

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This flower is about the size of a dime.  So lovely.  6 pedals with pointed ends of the loveliest shade of purple.  They grow on the tops of thick grass-like stalks and are a flower of my childhood.

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There is a bug underneath all that spit.

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Lovely red cloak

I had to twist around the stem to take the photo because he kept going behind the flower to hide from me.  Imagine spending time in a buttercup.

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butterflies and moths are impossible to get close to, I only got this photo because it was dead.

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It’s so beautiful!!!!  I bet he would be fun to draw.

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a couple of these photos will not contain an insect.

Yarrow is just coming into blossom.

Their whiteness looks so lovely in a sea of green grasses.  Their stalks are still nice and bendy and tossed back and forth in the wind in a very sea-like wavey way.

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mating bugs

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I admit this one gave me a creepy feeling.

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Teeny tiny spider and two teeny tiny black bugs.  Do they know they are being watched by a spider?

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“What big eyes you have, Grandmother!”

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I imagine this is one of those super-hero bugs wearing dark shades and a business suit and out to save the day *like Seth*.

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with pedals

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and without.

And all God’s people said……….

new lens in the great outdoors

Next month at this time I will be in Alaska with my friend Hannah.  Joanna suggested getting my hands on a fisheye lens so as to be better prepared for the gorgeous Alaskan spectacles of nature that I will be sure to see and want to photograph.

The lens came last week and as soon as I was able, I went outside for a long long walk and took photos of everything.  These are the ones that made the final cut:

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First off; it seemed fitting and right to take the first photo of the hens after I let them out of the coop that morning.  This one seemed especially interested in my new lens.

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And on I went; there are many varieties of ferns in the woods.

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Butterfly

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Strawberry Blossom

I must remember where I saw this so I can go back and eat the berries later.

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A lovely bunch of white violets.  All the violets were at their peak of loveliness in the woods (by the house they were done blooming) so they were a joy to see.

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Quaker Ladies//Bluets grow everywhere.

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Thanks to recent rains the outdoors has become a stunning shade of emerald green.

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Unfurling ferns

I was lying on the ground to take some of these photos.

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Dappled sunshine

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit

A favorite spring flower.

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I hung my jacket off a tree branch at the old beaver pond in the woods as I explored.  There was a water lily bud about to bloom that I will go back to look at soon.

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Please pardon some of the edges of my photos which is a hazard of the fish eye lens.  I am learning to be more careful about adjusting the lens so there are no shadows in the corners.  But this chair was found in the woods by my daughter and I a few weeks ago and it gave us a bit of a creepy feeling.  Has anyone ever silently sat here and watched us walk by?

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Standing up high on a boulder and admiring the stream.

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There were violets growing everywhere and it was about this point when I lost my lens cap and had to retrace my steps to find it again.

I had no pockets so I was putting it down my tucked in shirt, and when I bent over to take photos it fell out.

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I know I have a lot to learn.

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But these photos make me happy today.

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And I hope you liked them, too.

*****

I’m thankful I can go for walks like this without having to drive anywhere, I can just walk out the front door and be on my way.

It never gets boring, there is always something new to see.  New flowers blooming, insects, small creatures, birds, mushrooms, plants, water, pinecones, trees and bark, leaves, and so on……….

And always thoughts of God and the Creator of such good things.

“I think this is how we’re supposed

to be in the world–

present and in awe.”

Anne Lamott

 

 

 

 

 

 

sarah & mom blog post

“Set me a task in which I can put something of my very self,
and it is a task no longer;
it is joy; it is art.”
 Bliss Carman

We went for a walk together in the woods–all her idea–and then I found a paper in her backpack from the field trip she took to a local wildlife sanctuary.

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What did I hear?

“I could hear water, the crunching leaves, and birds chirping.”

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What did I see?

“I saw, trees, and a squirl, and deer poop, and pine cones, and birds, and vernal pools.

fullsizeoutput_5484We found a bone so we slipped it on her “adventure stick.”

What did I smell?

“I could smell skunk cabbage, and a fresh nature smell.”

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How did I feel?

“I felt rain, and the cool air, and the cruching leaves under my feet.”

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