Tuesday, January 10, 2023

They grow up too fast!

Items she collected on our walk
There's nothing sadder than watching the innocence of childhood come to an end. 

This weekend, while spending time with one of my granddaughters, I realized she's not a little girl any longer. 

At 9 years of age, the changes have come subtly but this weekend, as I watched her, I realized she's teetering on the edge of teenage life. 

I'm thankful for the time I get to spend with her. It isn't a lot, usually once a month and at major holidays and birthdays. I'd love to have more but I'll take what I can get at this point. 

We did a lot of things while she was here. I always try to find fun ways to keep her entertained without plopping her in front of the TV. 

The first thing we did was a science experiment. We talked about density, volume, and air. I used a bar of regular soap and a bar of Ivory soap to help give her a visual explanation. She laughed as we put the bar of regular soap in the bowl of water and it immediately sank to the bottom. Then, stood in awe watching the bar of Ivory float. Next, we took a bar of Ivory and put it in the microwave. I pulled up a chair so she could watch as the changes took place. Her eyes grew big as saucers as the soap began to expand filling my microwave with lush white clouds. When we took it out, I let her hold it. "It's light as a feather," she exclaimed. Then, I showed her how quickly the cloud would disappear if she crumbled it in her hands. The soap instantly became soap flakes. 

We went outside and did a nature walk where we discovered 5 garden slugs beneath the downspouts. She was intrigued with them and asked if we could pick them up. I found a piece of an old wooden slat and showed her how to gently lift a slug without harming it. 

She studied that slug for a long time, watching it move slowly across a piece of bark leaving a shiny, slimy trail. She looked up at me and said, "Gigi, do you know slugs are Gastropods?" I was amazed at this little one. Of course, she's very intelligent and loves to watch any and everything about nature, but she's always taken a special interest in insects and other small creatures since she was a tiny thing. 

I sat beside her and together we watched the slug maneuver his way up and then down the leaf of an Iris plant. Her eyes twinkled as she asked me how slugs move without any legs. I had a chance to teach her about the muscle contractions some animals and insects use and realized, though we were just outside enjoying nature, we were also having quite a homeschool lesson. 

We came inside after our adventure and I taught her how to make homemade play dough. I'd made it for her in the past but I'd always done all the measuring and cooking. This time, I allowed her that honor giving instructions as she worked. 

The precious memories we made that day are priceless. I know it won't be long before she won't care about taking nature walks with her Gigi and she'll be more interested in clothes and makeup than studying slugs. It makes me sad to think those days are coming to an end, but that's life. She has to grow up even if I don't want her to. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

The New Year has begun

 It's hard to believe we're already on the third day of the new year. 2023 came fast and hard. I'm afraid it's going to be a tough year for many. 

Yesterday, Phil and I decided to visit Callaway Gardens again. We've had an annual membership for some time and always enjoy going to visit the butterfly house there.When we arrived, there weren't many people and we wondered if perhaps the gardens were closed, but they were open. 

We drove through the gardens and were surprised to see the Christmas lights still up. We've never had the opportunity to see them lit, but according to the varied displays we saw as we drove, it must have been spectacular. 

When we pulled into the parking lot of the Day Butterfly Center, we noticed they'd recently graded the parking lot and made it a lot bigger. That was a much needed change that will provide places for many more guests. 

We went inside and just in the foyer was a large, beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Though Christmas was technically over, we enjoyed looking at it and longing for the next Christmas to come. 

Approaching the doors to the butterfly conservatory, we couldn't help but notice the wall of hatchlings next to us. Row upon row of beautiful cocoons hung there. Some cocoons were large and some were small. Several new butterflies hung from cocoons as the new creatures pumped their wings and prepared for flight. 

We opened the door to the conservatory and were immediately blasted with air. The staff have this purposely orchestrated to keep the butterflies in the center instead of allowing them to escape as people come and go. 

Hundreds of butterflies were in the air. The colors were brilliant as we walked down the path through the lush greenery. I took several photos of plants I'd never seen before. Their blooms were gorgeous and made me wonder what a tropical paradise would be like. 

Within a few minutes, I was able to move my finger in front of a pretty butterfly. As I waited patiently, it climbed on my finger and sat there while another butterfly moved quickly past. I felt the quick brush of wings and thought of the song, "Butterfly kisses." 

I held my special friend for a few minutes admiring its beauty. Then, I looked for a child to pass the creature on to and saw a little oriental boy just ahead of me. Slowly I walked toward him, smiling. He smiled back and as I extended my hand to ask if he wanted to hold the butterfly, he shied away, hiding behind his father's leg. 

The mother came alongside me and I began to speak to her. I wasn't sure they understood English and I could only remember a few phrases in Mandarin, so I spoke slowly hoping someone in the group could understand me. 

The father, little boy, and grandmother leaned in to look at the butterfly as I explained to the mother that they don't bite and I'd love to pass the creature on to one of them to enjoy. 

I held out my hand and the father stepped forward. I said, "Hold out your hand," and as he did, I slipped the butterfly slowly onto his finger. The little boy watched carefully as his father held the butterfly but was still afraid and didn't want to hold it. 

I stepped back and smiled. The father was so excited to hold the butterfly. It warmed my heart to see the joy on his face. 

We wandered through the rest of the center and then headed outside to hike. Although it was January, the day was warm and perfect for hiking. 

When it was time for lunch, we took our time making it to the picnic tables at Robin Beach. I unpacked the sandwiches I'd made and we sat down to eat. 

A large flock of Canada Geese flew overhead in a beautiful V formation before landing on the lake. 

It was a good day and we enjoyed our time outdoors. 

We're hoping this new year will be filled with opportunities to enjoy being out in nature. Both Phil and I love being outside. 

May the new year bring you chances for adventure, too. We could all use a little more of that in our lives. 

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