September 11, 2013

Maplewood Nature Center

About a month ago, Evie and I visited the Maplewood Nature Center. I'm always on the hunt for fun outdoor parks to take her to. Evie enjoys walking in the woods, and if a park has a natural play area nearby the visitor center, that's a definite plus.

Evie's been interested in learning how to read the maps we use at the parks. As we walked, I showed her where we were on the map, where we would be going next, and what landmarks to look for that were on the map (i.e. a bridge or a fork in the trail). 

Walks that would only take me maybe 20 minutes or so, even with the camera in hand, turn into 1 hour+ plus adventures with Evie. I forget sometimes that the trees, flowers, ducks, and insects I'm used to seeing are still exciting encounters for her.

Spotting birds is one of our favorite activities. There were a lot of ducks around. We also saw a green-backed heron, an eastern wood pewee (?), an egret, a downy woodpecker, and a bluejay.

It is hard to spot anything very skittish when on a walk with a 3-year-old, but Evie is trying very hard to learn how to be quiet and still when we spot something new.

Most of the time, though, she indulges in running and jumping and being noisy. I don't mind, so long as she stays within my sight. 

The pathway at the Maplewood Nature Center circles a small lake.

A portion of the trail splits off into a boardwalk, where you can walk a little ways out onto the water.

Evie is pretty cautious around water, so it is usually not too bad bringing her out on a boardwalk. There was a preschool class walking the trail at the same time as us, and I felt badly for the teachers/assistants attempting to keep all of the kids in line as they walked the boardwalk. Some of the kids were like Evie. They followed the rules and were pretty easy to keep track of. Some of the kids, though, wanted nothing more than to test the water with their feet or hands. It looked like a lot of work keeping everyone together.

I keep meaning to try to get Evie out to parks earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon, when the sun isn't so harsh.

Evie has an independent little spirit and she likes to lead the way as we walk.

I also keep meaning to bring along a bucket for her to collect her nature treasures in. It is typical for one or both of us to end up carrying leaves, sticks, acorns, rocks, and any other sort of fun things we can find.

The Maplewood Nature Center was a fun place to visit. We did spend some time at the end of our walk exploring the natural play area. It wasn't very big, but it was a fun spot, with a large rock to climb, a small bridge to cross, and the best thing ever, a tunnel cut through some large bushes. We'll likely visit again sometime, maybe this fall, when the leaves begin to turn.

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