Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tiny Creatures of the Deep Woods

~Mollusks and Millipedes and More (Oh My!)~

How was your Labor Day weekend?  We just returned from camping a few hours ago and I’m so excited to hammer out this post now that the tiny tykes are tuckered out and tucked in!  Sorry, sometimes the alliterations just slip out!  They’re so fun, I just can’t help myself!  This long weekend was spent with some new-found (to me and the kids) family from the area at the peaceful Indian Creek.  I love the Pacific Northwest’s towering trees that are drenched in moss and wading through ferns!  I do believe we got to pitch our tent amongst one of the loveliest scenes on God’s gorgeous planet, and that’s saying something! Many hours were spent wading in the water, hiking to waterfalls and talking around the camp fire, but I really love how my children got to study new creatures they’d never seen before!  Oh, the wonder!

The most numerous was the millipede!  I have rarely seen these creatures in my life, but there was an abundance this weekend!  There literally must have been thousands along our first hike; so many that you nearly couldn’t take a step without stepping on one!  Josh told our little guy that they may be poisonous, so he tried to rid the world of as many as possible, “so they won’t hurt anyone!”  But then we thought about how they would make a lovely bird feast, so he didn’t feel like he had to carry that responsibility himself! 
Still, at least the first couple were fascinating to all of us, especially how they moved their legs in waves down their bodies.  We talked about how the name described the creature (mili means thousand, pede means foot).  One of the little girls gathered some in a jar and we learned that they secrete a horrible odor when they feel threatened!  I was curious to learn more and found a little about these interesting creatures from A to Z animals.  They are invertebrates with 80-400 legs (not a thousand) but they only start out with 6!  As they grow, they shed layers and gain legs.  They are omnivores and some are indeed poisonous, though the only non-vegetarian dish the largest ones (they can get up to 15 inches) would eat would be small insects. 

A few caterpillars caught the attention of curious eyes for a while as well.  We stopped our little protector from his stomping rampage to remind him how caterpillars grow up to be butterflies and we need not be concerned with that creature!  There is a ton of information out there about the caterpillar's life process so I’m not going to rehash it here, but if you’re looking for good recources, kids butterfly is a good place to start or the butterfly site. 

At night, the kids and I sat on the bank of the creek and I watched them discover bats for the first time!  And while we were watching, a great blue heron flew right over our heads as it followed the creek bed!  We also found some fascinating spiders the next morning!

But the creature that enthralled my children the most was the humble snail!  We discovered a few over the course of the weekend and these little ones would just crouch down and watch.  It was amazing to see children so small gaze intently and be so still for so long!  I love that they are learning the benefits of being still from time to time.  I guess I want to learn how to do that better, too.  To just stop and watch.  To take it all in and learn and grow in that still time.  Hm, didn’t I just write myself a reminder card to be still? 

Anyway, we grew up with plenty of snails and slugs in our lives, but I wanted to see if we could learn anything new about them, too.  I found some great  information at Snail WorldDid you know snails can live up to 25 years old, or that they can see and smell, but not hear?  They are nocturnal and so strong they can lift ten times their body weight.  Snail World also has a kids page where I learned they like to eat calcium for a strong shell and that they actually have microscopic teeth.  The page has a print out and lots more info for my homeschooling  friends out there.  Although we didn’t want to transport one in the car, we’re considering keeping a snail or two in a jar in the house for a bit and the above mentioned page also has some great ideas for snail pet care. 

So much of our weekend was spent looking at tiny things.  Then we stumble across the great majesty of the ancient trees and the depths to which the waterfalls plummet!  Does this remind anyone else of the multiple facets of God?  So often I get so focused on what I can see of Him here and what I can see Him doing now that I forget that He is so much more than we can imagine!  Dad always used to explain it by stabbing a pencil through a piece of paper and showing us how we can be like two dimensional paper so that all we see of God (parablized by the pencil) in our little world is a circle, when in reality, there is depth and understanding to Him that we can’t begin to imagine!  Wow!  That’s my Jesus in whom I can trust!  Creator of the largest and tiniest wonders…


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