These photos are from a couple of weeks ago, during that really good week of fresh, crunchy, Autumn park days before it rained and the Autumn treasures became wet and mushy. Going to the park is one of the best things to do right now. Tiny Tin Bird loves the freedom to run around and walk without being on his reins. I can let him go quite a distance without worrying because it’s so easy to see him and it doesn’t really take too long to catch up because there is invariably an interesting leaf or stick that he stops to investigate.
His favourite thing at the moment is to stand at the big tree stumps and play with all of the leaves, sticks, stones and seed pods that he can find. He likes to climb up on top of them and let me jump him down. That kind of thing. A couple of weeks ago he noticed that there were some really big sticks on the grass and he was confused as to why he couldn’t pick them up. I explained that they were the roots of the tree, and told him about the structure of the trees. The roots are like the tree’s feet, I said. He thought about this a bit and then satisfied as to why he couldn’t pick them up, he went on his way.
Now when he’s in the park he very carefully stands on the tree roots and tells me that they are “Roots! Tree feet!”. I’m so thrilled that he listened to what I said, and remembered it! I know he does learn most of his things from me, because I’m his primary caregiver, but it was still very exciting for me that he learned a fact, a fact about nature, rather than the “normal” things you’d expect him to learn during his early years like how to hold a fork or to say please.
On this particular day in the park, it was as close to perfection as I think you can get. We walked all the way up to the tall beech trees and the ground was littered with the crunchy seed cases and beech nuts. They were clicking and popping as they ripened and fell off the tree and I could see them falling to the ground like the first few flakes of snow. I lifted TTB up to the tree so that he could see them growing amongst the leaves, and then I found a few seeds and pods in various stages and lined them up on the tree stump for TTB to see. I showed him that they were spiky on the outside, and silky soft on the inside. That they were closed up on the tree but that they popped open when they were ripe and fell to the ground. Inside nestle two smooth, brown, triangular-based seeds. These are the seeds of the beech tree, and they look different from the seeds of the sycamore trees that you like to collect on our walks near home.
Later on we walked in the other direction, over the grass, where the sun was perfectly illuminating this oak leaf that was resting in the grass. I thought … well … he is a little sponge right now when it comes to learning … perhaps I could try teaching him that there are different types of leaf? It can’t hurt, can it? So I told him that this was an oak leaf, and it came from the tall oak tree behind us. Look, it has little bumps coming off it around the edge, like little fingers. It’s an oak leaf.
I didn’t really expect anything to come of it, but yesterday he picked up a chard leaf from our salad at lunch time and told me that it was an oak leaf. Wrong, but he has remembered the word and that there are different types of leaf! (That sounds like he is a really good eater, but ha, you can’t get him to eat leaves! I always give him a few and he just looks at me like I’m bonkers.)
The next tree we came to was the horse chestnut and happily we had arrived when there were plenty of conkers on the ground (get there before the children come out of school, that’s my tip!) and we spend a while collecting them all up. Oh so fun! I cracked a few open for him and left them on the ground where he could find them and he was so happy. He was trying in vain to keep hold of all the shells and all of the conkers and we talked a bit about how the conkers are the fun part to keep and the shells can be left on the ground. He calls them “connas” or “tommas” and can say shell too.
When he is happy in the park he is much more willing to stand still and let me take photos!
I’m really proud that he’s learning so much, and that I’m actually able to teach him interesting things now. He’s so good in the park and I’m so happy that he loves being outside (and trees!) as much as I do. He had his first morning at playgroup today (I need to leave and collect him soon) and it’s the start of him learning things from somewhere other than me. I thought I would feel a bit weird about that but I really don’t. Learning is brilliant. I’m lucky to have had him to myself for two full years! He’s growing up fast but I love every bit of it. Having a toddler is the most amazing thing and I’m so privileged to see him grow up.