Spring Things

Warm afternoons, sunshine, and the return of green, growing things… Spring!

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With the onset of spring comes a flurry of activity in and around our home. In addition to spending more time playing outside, we’re stirring the compost pile, planning the gardens, starting seeds, and bringing a bit of the outdoors in.

The most fascinating of our spring projects has been our twig study. Last week we snipped twigs from all the trees and bushes around our yard, brought them inside, color-coded them with strings of embroidery floss, and placed them in jars of water in a sunny window. Every day the buds on the lilac and apricot twigs have opened bit by bit, and today, exactly seven days later, we have abundant green leaves and fragrant white flowers! We’re still waiting on the maple, cottonwood, apple, pear, and unidentified varieties.

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We’re also sprouting beans on damp paper towels in plastic bags taped to the window. The kids have enjoyed watching the roots (and mold—yikes!) grow. No leaves yet…

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Last fall, Abram asked if we could plant a butterfly garden to attract the Monarchs to our yard, so this year we acquired milkweed seeds, which are planted and under the grow-lights inside. We’ll transplant the milkweed (hopefully!) when the weather warms up, along with broadcast sowing some mixed flowers in two empty plots around our house. The kids are also looking forward to receiving their butterfly garden starter kit from the National Wildlife Federation’s Butterfly Heroes program!

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This year we started our herb seeds outdoors in plastic jugs using a method called “winter-sowing.” I find starting seeds indoors tedious, so I was immediately drawn to this low-maintenance solution. Now if I would only remember to water them…

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Of course, no project is complete without a trip to the library in search of books about seeds and butterflies and outdoors projects and crafts. After perusing our books, both kids—without any prompting—got out their nature notebooks and drew pictures of the critters they hope to spot this summer. Then they flipped back through the pages, recalling our nature walks and projects from the fall. I revel in these moments of genuine enthusiasm, interest, and delight!

nature notebooks

Special thanks to my dear friends Sara, Rosie, and Meghan for sharing their knowledge, experience, and resources!

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