Friday, April 5, 2013

Nature Study - Slate

My son and I have done some nature studies that have not gotten blogged. So I'm sorry about that. I don't know if those will ever get blogged. But here is yesterday's nature walk.

Begin with the information that my son saved up and purchased a metal detector. It is a current passion with him, and he took it on our nature walk. Yesterday I don't think his mind was on slate or moss, lichens or flowers, birds or squirrels. He walked with metal detector in one hand, shovel in the other, seeking stray coins in Rock Creek Park.

Back to our nature study. I am a subscriber to the Outdoor Hour Challenge, and there was recently a post on slate. I groaned. "I don't know of any slate near here! I don't want to take a field trip to great falls to find slate! That one is just going to have to slide..." Or so I thought.

We headed to our local nature center to take a nice walk. I had in mind working on some Boy Scout advancement requirements in son's book. He is almost a Tenderfoot. Happy we were to find that the nature center has a flag pole. Sad as it is, we've been trying for months and months to get an opportunity for my son to complete a book requirement to raise and lower a flag, fold a flag, and learn about proper ways to display the flag. (He hasn't quite gotten the idea, yet, that his Boy Scout Handbook is a wealth of information.)

I approached the site's naturalist, and she was delighted to permit us to use the flag pole to complete his requirements. First we sat in the nature center and read the appropriate section in his hand book about proper handling and display of the flag. Then we went outside to raise and lower the flag(s) (state flag there too).   Sadly, my camera's battery had gone dead on my first attempt to snap a photograph, and I didn't remember to use my cell phone until later in our day, so no photos. Besides, there were only the two of us, so no third person to take the photos.

That done, we took off hiking on the nature trails. Imagine my surprise and delight when I started spotting slate!

My son, the whole time hunting for coins, we worked our way down a hugely steep hill. I was tickled to see the sheer quantity of slate all along the path, even integrated into walls built to line the path.

The steep path was lined with slate. The wall was built with slate, with moss and lichens. The dry creek bed was filled with slate, leading to the larger stream that was lined with slate. I am scratching my head: I once knew that about this area. How had I forgotten?

We had a wonderful hike. My son found some coins. The weather here is still too cool for this time of year, though, and I am anxious for spring.

 Spotted some really cool moss and lichens on various trees and rocks.

 Finally found signs of spring. Have known this flower every spring here my entire life, and never knew what it was. Searching today on Google Images, I come to the conclusion that it is "Blood Root". Cool!
 A tree that had fallen across the path has been cut to clear the way. My son noted that it had two cores, which means it was two trees that had fused together while they grew. (No photo. What was I thinking?)

 Spotted this huge mass of blossoming moss! (above) Very Cool.

Below, my son examining the underside root structure of a fallen tree. Amazingly, the upturned roots have pulled with them huge quantities of shale/slate!
 Sat down on a fallen log to tie my shoe, only to find that I shared my log with an acorn desperately trying to become a new tree. I freed it from it's location on the rotting tree trunk, and tossed it to a spot where it might be more likely to take root!


  1. FlyMama Di,

    Just wanted you to know your link on this week's Think Back Thursday post,
    HERE -

    Actually links back to my blog... not to yours. I don't have time to go looking for the post you linked up since it is not your latest. If you need help fixing the link just put the correct url in a comment on my blog and I will fix it for you. Thanks for linking up.

  2. What a great that you found some slate and moss too! Great job on getting outside even if it is still cool. Thanks for sharing your entry with the OHC Carnival.