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Kids and Nature
August 13, 2012

Rain, Glorious Rain.

More than 2 inches of ground soaking rain over a two day period.

The same system dropped more than 8 inches of rain on parts of Eastern Michigan, where flood warnings were issued.

Even though the rain is too late for many farmers, the ponds, rivers and lakes need the water too.

The back half of this past week felt more like October than August.

I nice reprieve, but it is still summer and I still want some summer weather.

Parent birds continue to bring their offspring to the feeders and into the flower gardens as they teach them to forage and fend for themselves.

Hummingbirds are busy foraging and licking up sugar water.

There aren't as many butterflies as I would like around here, but there were plenty to admire on our last short trip of the summer to Northern Michigan.

Monarchs Galore, several Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and several other butterflies to admire.

I enjoy watching parts of the Olympics, especially the speed events like swimming and running.

I'm not sure how Badmitten can be an Olympic sport, while Softball and Baseball were eliminated.

I am glad they are over, there is a tendency to spent too much time in front of the tube.

Up Lifting.

Food for my spirit.

Reminders from God.

These and much more are my little trips Up North.

Prayerfully, we can still get in a fall trip or at least a day trip.

I can't explain in words what it does for me.

I would like to say that we had a perfect time Up North this past week, but we had a couple of glitches.

Wednesday morning, someone backed into the van, leaving a nice crinkled tailgate.

Besides a bit of anger, our concern was that it would open for Yolanda.

Stuff happens and this was not going to deter me from enjoying my family and life Up North.

A few minutes later, I was good to go (God prepares us when we continue to seek him).

Later that day came an even bigger challenge.

I digress.

At the last minute, our 17 year old grand daughter decided she wanted to come on our little trip with our daughter and the rest of the grand kids.

A 17 year old with an attitude that thinks the world owes her, and she can do what she wants.

As if it were part of her physical being, her cell phone seems attached to her, no matter where we went.

Instead of enjoying family and the sights, it was more important to text.

As if she was challenging me, I kept asking, then telling her to put it down.

Wednesday evening......

In a restaurant, she continued to play with her phone.


"Put it down now or I will take it from you until the trip is over," I said.

I guess this gal decided to challenge me or thought she could get away with her actions because we were in a restaurant.

Making a small scene, I went to the next table over, and wrestled the phone from her and kept it the remainder of our trip.

There sat one surprised and embarrassed girl.

What is a person to do?

I think the other patrons and server wanted to applaud when I apologized for the disruption and they said not to worry and there was no disruption.

Karen was embarrassed.

Her mother was pleasingly surprised.

Boy did that feel good to do.

Cell phones and family time don't mix (my opinion).

Prayerfully Jasmine will learn a lesson or two, and yes I will do it again if the time calls for it.

Not to let it spoil the rest of my time with the rest of our grand kids, the rest of our short time Up North was very nice.

Kids and Nature:


I'm not sure where to start, or if this has merit for a newsletter.

I do want to share a few moments with you on how important it is to introduce kids to nature.

One of the main reasons we took our little trip Up North and to 'Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore' was simple.

Our grand kids have never seen them or the surrounding area.

Okay, you know about the 17 year old grand daughter and our oldest daughter.

She also piled into her car, a two year old grand daughter, and grandsons age 15, 13, 8,and 5.

The 15 and 8 year old are adopted.

Inner city boys that come with emotional and some mental baggage.

I figured it would be nice for all the kids to see a part of Michigan they haven't seen before.

I explained that they were about to see the World's Largest Fresh Water Dunes.

Along the trip, the kids had a difficult time realizing that this was the Same Lake Michigan they swim in at Holland or Grand Haven, 150 miles south of where we were

The Big Lakes are Great, even adults from other locations that have never seen a Great Lake are amazed by the size of these fresh water bodies.

Once again, I digress.

No way can you prepare a young mind for the shear size of these sand hills.

The World Famous Overlook is 450 feet above the lake, at about a 45 degree incline.

People at water's edge look like dots, moving specks.

(The dots, people are on the left near the shoreline).

The boys wanted to run down the steep hill, but Gramps put that idea to a quick end.

On a clear day, the view is breath taking to say the least.

(I mention clear days, because fog can often be an issue when warm air hits cold air rising from the cold waters of the Big Lake.)

A person can actually notice the curvature of the earth when looking out over Lake Michigan.

That in itself is awe inspiring.

A Wow Moment.

Pictures never do justice, as they limit the over all view.

Along with the sand and the lake, there is the Indian story or legend on the 'Sleeping Bear' and how it came about (you will have to look it up).

What is special, is how a young mind gets caught up in the moment.

Boys from the inner city that knew very little about the outside world are now in a whole new world.

A 15 year old that keeps asking if we are still in Michigan and if that is really Lake Michigan.

An 8 year old that doesn't know where to look next.

The other boys have been with us on trips before, besides when your 13 it isn't cool to be too excited.

When your just turning 5 and in a strange place, you don't know if you should rip and run or cling.

There was some of each.

Then there came the dune climb.

A much smaller sand hill set aside just for people to climb and run down.

I spent all of my energy (still feeling it) pushing Yolanda up and down the walkway to the overlook, that I had no desire to run down with the boys.

(I'm afraid I will not be able to make that trek with Yolanda again without help.)

Even 'Miss Know It All' made a few climbs and ran back down (though she wouldn't admit she had fun).

Along the way, there were a few educational moments.

A look and explanation as to why a Giant Woodpecker (Pileated Woodpecker) could do such a number on a tree as pictured.

Explaining the importance of the native plants and grasses and to respect the Natural World.

How and why the the American Indians found this spot to there liking.

For me, it is the shear beauty of it all.

Massive Sand Dunes.

Creeks and streams running through as they converge with the Big Lake.

The water is more blue and the streams for sure are clear.

The air seems fresher.

The diverse Flora and Fauna found there.

A place where everyone is a kid again.

A place voted as the 'Most Beautiful Place in America.

Sure there are grand mountains, canyons, ocean shores, and much more.

What makes Sleeping Bear so special, is the diversity of the land (even islands), and her natural inhabitants.

A place where just about anyone can
travel to and get away from the crowd.

Where special skills and equipment aren't paramount.

A place where kids from the inner city fit right in without question.

I was so busy with the four boys, I didn't have time to take as many pictures as I would have liked.

I didn't have time to walk down many of the trails or drive down some of the old roads that would bring me in touch with historical farming communities or the logging industry from a hundred years ago.

I missed out on Bald Eagle sightings and the sound of the Loon.

I did hear something far better, however.

The sounds of my grand kids laughing and having fun.

The countless questions and yes, a few bickers among themselves.

The greatest sound of all was hearing this.

I had fun Grandpa, lets go back to the sand dunes.

I've exposed all of my grand kids to bits of wildlife and nature around here.

I make efforts to teach them in my own little gardens.

It isn't easy these days.

Video games, computers, cell phones and more that seem to keep a child occupied or become babysitters.

I'm 58 and 50 years ago, America was considered a rural country as a majority of the population was rural.

Today America considered an urban country (Canada you are still blessed).

With that, many of our kids and grand kids miss the joy that Nature is intended to provide.

The little risks, the exploration, the imaginations of a little mind.

Even if you can't take a child to a national or state park, you can take them for little walks.

You may be able to show them a thing or two in your own backyard,

A butterfly or caterpillar.

A praying mantis.

There are countless things to share with a child.

Still, nature doesn't have to be all about wildlife, nature is also about climbing sand hills or swimming a clean lake, or fishing a nice stream.

Help develop the next John Muir or Roger Tory Peterson.

I've said this before ......

Read 'Last Child n the Woods' by Richard Louv.

Did I tell you I was proud of our daughter and her family for taking on a giant task?

Well, I am now.

To readers and friends that live near one of these special locations, I am envious, and never take it for granted.

It is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"We are not to imagine or suppose, but to discover, what nature does or may be made to do."

Frances Bacon

God created everything and he called it good. He also wants us to explore his creations and to admire our surroundings. So much so, we can even learn from them.

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:26 and 28,29

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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