We live about a mile or so from the center of our little village town, and on occasion, we like to walk to our local library. In the past we’ve always gone along the road and taken the stroller, which the kids rode in more than not during the trip. But after a lengthy nature hike through the woods last week, I figured it would be a good time to try the library trip sans stroller, along the more direct route through the woods. I was very pleased to see that they trooped there and back with only the faintest beginnings of are-we-there-yet-I’m-sooooo-tired just as we got near our house.
It was a perfect day for a walk, and we lucked out with more than just the weather. We spotted some color starting in earnest on some of the tree branches, found several excellent leaf specimens (I was very proud when S6 pointed at a pretty red leaf I had found and said, “that’s a nice maple leaf you have, Mama!”) and appreciated it immensely when they pointed out other paths we had tried out the previous week.
Side note: I like that they are developing excellent senses of direction. S6 will often tell me the compass direction we are traveling, and can answer relative-direction questions with ease. If we are driving west, I will ask her which way our house is from where we are, and she will correctly answer “east”. Often this will be followed up with questions such as, “what direction is out your window, then?” (north, since she’s on the passenger side of the van). O4 will chime in, reporting that “my window is south!”
We crossed over a footbridge that spans Yellow Creek, stopping in the middle like we always do to check out the moving water. The creek is low this time of year, and we talked about how the creek bed is bigger than the current water level because the creek is much higher in the spring (snowmelt and more rain). O4 crossed the bridge and then returned with a frilly leaf that needed to go over the side. S6 suddenly remembered Poohsticks from reading Winnie the Pooh last year. We decided to play on our way back over the bridge.
We hiked the rest of the way through the woods and found a shelter and a rock with a plaque describing how the forest had been dedicated by Mrs. Butler in memory of her husband. I doubt that the kids will remember the name at this point, but they were very curious about the rock plaque and accompanying pavilion.
Upon exiting the woods, we walked along College Street, which has beautiful century homes and stunning landscaping, both natural and man-made. We passed the middle school, which is another historic building. Their grandfather taught school in this building for many years, and they were curious to see it.
Around the bend we found Town Hall, and as we crossed the parking lot we spotted a neighbor. She takes care of the Centennial Garden behind the building, and gave us a quick tour of the beautiful roses and herbs she tends voluntarily. I never even knew this garden existed. It is beautiful, and we will likely go back there again on sunny days to read.
We were almost to the library at this point, and walking around the Town Hall building the girls got to see where the Police Department was located, and we talked about how the village has a Mayor and also a Council, and they remembered going to a Town Council meeting last year to discuss our street being annexed into the Village.
At the library, we had a half-hour of computer time, made a craft for the All Seasons Tree, and picked out some books. I had reserved some titles and was able to pick up several of them, including a few for the upcoming Pittsburgh International Childrens’ Theatre series we will be attending this year. I like for the kids to read the books that the productions are based on before we go to the shows.
Our plan had been to have a light lunch in the cafe below the library, but it was closed, so we walked to a restaurant up the street and had lunch there instead. On the way back, the kids asked if we could check out Peterson Park. This is a little wedge of land between SR 224 and SR 170, literally a small triangle that used to be a gas station but had been converted to a park a few years back. Here we saw the statues of two Polish generals who had come to fight on the side of the Americans during the Revolutionary War. The township decided to name itself “Poland” in honor of the country of these two soldiers’ birth. Later, we found Poland on our world map. Mark’s mother’s family was from Poland and I believe her parents or, at most, grandparents, emigrated from there. We also found Serbia-Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia), where their grandfather was born and emigrated from at age 12.
On the way home we stopped in one of the picnic shelters, even though we had just eaten lunch, and ate a snack out of O4’s pack. Then we stopped at the Throwing Rocks Place to skip pebbles. There we discovered that flat, round rocks skipped infinitely better than large chunks of ag-slag. We also discovered sand near the creek edge, a few tiny shells, and saw quite a few squirrels getting ready for winter.
The last stretch of the walk home we collected a few good sticks for Pooh Sticks, and when we reached the bridge over Yellow Creek we played six games. Fortunately, each girl won three times, so the day ended on quite an up note.