My goal this year is a nature walk with the kids each week.

That’s the goal.

The reality is that it’s a lot of work to get my kids bundled up and out of the house when it’s rainy or cold or both, and my desire to be present to the beauties of the natural world is, I’m afraid, trumped by my desire to be warm and dry.

But we did manage to get out on a sunny Friday. I loaded the jogging stroller into the sofa-mobile, and the kids and I headed over to Carkeek Park.

We parked at the trailhead behind QFC and walked along the dirt-and-gravel path that followed Piper’s Creek through Piper’s Canyon.

Leaves lay scattered on the trail and glowed gold and red and orange and yellow on the trees. Lovely fall flowers dotted the borders of the trail. Birds trilled in the trees. The creek burbled just out of sight in the vine maples and mahonia.

Jack found a fallen log that traversed the creek. He scrambled onto it and walked across. Jane sat on the log and waited for him.

About midway between the trailhead and Carkeek Park, we came upon a sunny slope planted with apple trees, an abandoned orchard that has been lovingly restored over the past decade. We tasted the windfall apples that littered the side of the trail and decided they were better for cider or sauce than eating raw.

And on one of the bridges that crosses Piper’s Creek, Jack and Jane played Pooh-sticks.

You know about Pooh-sticks, right? It’s a game that Winnie-the-Pooh invented (hence its name). The kids chose sticks and on the count of three dropped them off the bridge into the creek. Then they ran to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick would come out first.

That’s it. That’s how you play Pooh-sticks. And believe it or not, it is possible for children under the age of eight to play this game for an hour. Longer, if their twin baby brothers don’t start wailing and demanding to go home for a nap. Unfortunately for our fair hero and heroine, said baby brothers did commence crying and their game of Pooh-sticks was sadly and prematurely ended.

But the sun still shone, and the creek still burbled, and the trees still danced in the breeze, so all was not lost. Jack and Jane skipped back the way they’d come, and even discovered a new friend on the way.


Every person is “formed to be a spectator of the created world – and given eyes that [we] might be led to its Author by so beautiful a representation.” –John Calvin

—a repost from the archives
(to remind myself that I want to include
nature walks in our curriculum this fall)