I love winter. …the cold, crisp, air… the snow… the whole thing. And so I was just about as exited as our boys were to get our first big storm of the season. We got a lot of snow. The boys begged to go out and build a snowman, and so we bundled up and went out — but the snow was a little too crumbly. We made a baby snowman, and then moved onto bigger and better things — a snow fort! Steven shoveled some snow from the yard into piles during a driveway-shoveling-break, and then Toby and I built a knee-high (or waist-high, depending on who you ask) horseshoe fort. Toby kept kicking holes in it to make space for a refrigerator. Then, after a brief snowball fight, it was time to go inside — frostbite prevention!
We didn’t get back out in the snow that day, to play, that is. We did take a drive that evening (as an aside, I’m really thankful we now have a truck). The next morning, we awoke to a winter wonderland (okay, it was there the night before too, but give me a break here). The boys were super excited when they woke up. But, before they did, I was able to sneak out for a brief walk through our woods on my own (Steven was great, he saw the eager look in my eyes and said “go.”).
So, here are some photographs of my morning excursion. I love the predawn quiet and stillness. I got to see a deer, and tracks from several animals who’ve been using the path I made in our woods this summer.
But best of all, I got to see the sun rise and kiss the treetops with warmth and light.
Thanks for indulging me. I know some of you aren’t fond of winter (*gasp!*). But I really love all four seasons — except that constant state of flux where it freezes then thaws, freezes then thaws, etc. Snow is gorgeous. As Toby observed, it is “all sparkly.” The snow shimmers, reflects light, casts a whole new wonder about the world. It makes the ordinary and the mundane seem surreal and magical. It makes us take a pause from our daily routine to admire the wonders of creation around us.
Lately I’ve become interested in adding native plants to our gardens and wooded area. Sure, non-native flowers can be gorgeous, but there are so many native options to choose from that are better suited for the environment (and therefore easier to grow).
So today we’re going to learn about Michigan’s official wildflower. And a brief summary of how it came to be the Dwarf Lake Iris.
Long story short, the popular vote was for Trillium (another native wildflower) to be named Michigan’s state wildflower. Politicians decided to proceed with the second place wildflower, the Dwarf Lake Iris, due to its threatened status. Maybe they thought the additional awareness about the unique and threatened habitat of the Dwarf Lake Iris could help preserve the species.
I’ve never seen one of these beauties in person. But thanks to the internet, I was able to find a number of blog posts and photos featuring the Dwarf Lake Iris.
Here’s one that was taken by Joshua Mayer in Wisconsin (see below). The Dwarf Lake Iris may look familiar, but that’s because it’s part of the Iris family. This particular flower is miniature — about 1.5″ flowers, with 2″ stems and 6″ leaves.
The Dwarf Lake Iris is unique to the Great Lakes; its scientific name, Iris Lacustris, means “rainbow of the lakes.”
Here are some resources I found if you want to learn more about the Dwarf Lake Iris:
Iris Lacustris – Center For Plant Conservation – I learned that 95% of the existing Dwarf Lake Iris plants exist in Michigan, and that its primary threats include loss of habitat, increasing human disturbance, and Iris Lacustris is very similar to the related (and more common) Iris Cristata.
Iris Lacustris – Michigan DNR – this has a nice map depicting where the Dwarf Lake Iris is distributed in Michigan. There are some interesting tidbits, including that “of the lakes” meaning I mentioned earlier.
Michigan State Wildflower – Netstate – If you’re interested in how the Michigan Wildflower Association sponsored an informal public poll for the state wildflower, and how the runner up was nominated in 1997 by House Representative Liz Brater (supported by the Michigan Botanical Club, the Michigan Nature Association, the Michigan Natural Areas Council, the Michigan Environmental Council, and the University of Michigan Herbarium)…. this site has the political aspect covered.
Dwarf Lake Iris – Michigan Sea Grant – another brief summary of the Dwarf Lake Iris’ habitat, characteristics, the fact that its scientific name means “rainbow of the lakes” …plus more pictures
Now for a fun craft to help facilitate discussion about Michigan’s official wildflower. I kept this pretty simple, as I wanted to go with an artistic abstraction that would encourage my son, Toby, to think and visualize pictures of the Dwarf Lake Iris in terms of simplified shapes.
For this activity, we used some origami paper that I received for review purposes (Orchid Origami Paper – 500 sheet pack #afflink). I have to say, the paper totally lives up to my standards so far as origami paper goes. The surface of the paper is smooth, they are easy to fold and get sharply creased, and the colors are really bright.
And before you say anything, yes, I know… cutting is kind of a no-no when forming origami creations. But, I couldn’t help but be drawn to all the bright colors when I was trying to decide on a craft to go along with our discussion of Michigan’s official wildflower.
So that’s all there is to it! This could be more of a sensory experience, if you let the paper pieces be loose and transient like we did, or you could use a glue stick to permanently adhere the abstracted pieces to the paper. Your call. I went with simpler and more experimental. Because that’s what works for us!
Tour the World By Flower
This post is part of the Tour the World By Flower blog hop. Every state and country (and as we’ve discovered, province, county or territory) has an official flower. A number of bloggers have collaborated to Tour the World by Flower with crafts to learn about various official flowers! Make sure to check out Suzy Homeschooler’s Michigan Apple Blossom craft, which is the official state flower for Michigan.
Disclaimer: I received one or more products gratis in exchange for an honest evaluation — the opinions expressed are 100% my own.
Sometimes words escape me. Poetry seems to better convey the nuances of art, but still falls short. As adults, we look at the world through defined terms, we compartmentalize and limit our understanding of the world around us. Children on the other hand, are free from preconception, and don’t have to think inside the box. They create order and define the world around them in terms of what they know, the vocabulary they have on hand.
My son recently had his first vision test, and got to identify shapes: square, circle, apple/heart(?), house. His version: Knox, letter “o”, heart, house. Once he understood the nurse wanted him to say square, he refined his answer to fit the mold. But honestly, I enjoyed the creativity in his first answer. Knox is the name of the church we attend — and a church is a building. Hence, a square.
And what of these photographs I’m about to share? Trying to think like a toddler, I imagined these lines to be intersections, roads for cars to travel, a way to get where you’re going. And finally I was able to gather some words to creatively describe these metallic intersections:
Like little roads,
the lines travel ever onward.
What is it? I’ll let you know at the end of the post (along with some related kid activity resources). But for now, take a peek at this series of images.
So, what is this macro photograph of? It’s something you’ve probably used on many occasions. Found in most homes. In the kitchen, to be precise.
Any last guesses?
It’s a common kitchen whisk.
(Kid-Friendly) Resources On Using Kitchen Utensils
My son loves to help in the kitchen! When working on a puzzle the other day, he corrected my mother: “That’s not a chef, that’s a cook!” Whether he’s pretending to help or actually contributing, I hope to continue cultivating our son’s love of the culinary arts as he grows. As promised, here are some resources on using whisks and other kitchen utensils in creative non-traditional ways… and some more typical ways as well. The links will open in a new window for your convenience.