Exploring Outdoors in Winter

When winter comes I really feel it and maybe you do too. I feel the feeling of melancholy that accompanies being stuck indoors for long stretches of time. There is a name for that feeling, Seasonal Affected Disorder. I’m certainly not a doctor but I can recognize when “SAD” is hitting me and the best cure for me is to get outside on a bright and sunny day.

Yesterday I dragged the kids outdoors and headed out to explore nature. They were cooped up playing video games with little physical activity. They needed the outdoor time too! We drove over to the new property and hiked into areas we’ve never explored before. We looked for signs of nature, followed deer trails, and ran around a bit. As this week has been the coldest we’ve had all year the kids were very hesitant, but once there they enjoyed it!

Getting Outdoors

The woods were calling, we listened and went exploring.

Signs of nature were all over the woods. Holes abandoned by woodpeckers made us wonder if small owls may have taken up residence.

A fallen walnut log made me consider about turning a piece of it into a mantle place inside our future house. It was cut and left by a prior owner of the land.

Cardinals and other birds flitted about the edges of the clearings. Bluebirds, finches, and at least one wood pecker were seen.

In the woods we found the fruit of an osage orange tree. It’s one of several we’ve found so far.

We found frost flowers. Forst flowers occur when the moisture comes up through the hollow stems of plants and bursts through the stem walls. Often it forms interesting shapes as the ice emerges from the stem. Here it’s more of a mass of ice.

The spiky seed pods of a datura are interesting to see but painful to touch! I attempted to show the kids the seeds on the inside but the spikes were an effective deterrent!

During the end of the growing season numerous milkweed plants could be found. After the seeds have emerged to float on the wind sometimes the seed pod remains in place. Milkweed is the natural host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Looking out over the little bluestem grass was a great feeling. This time of year golden brown grass might be serving as a nesting location for ground birds and providing a food source for nature. It also makes a great area to play in!

I highly encourage you to brave the cold and head outdoors whenever you can. Find a local park, botanical garden, or just take a walk outdoors in your neighborhood. People were not meant to be indoors 100% of the time!