Monday, November 22, 2010

Home of Good Crawly Toys

Evelyn was joyfully holding a darkling beetle (what mealworms grow up to be).  This was 8 years ago and she was four.  Overcome with her enthusiasm she blurted out, "Life is just so much of a good crawly toy!"

Since that day I have tried to instill a respect for living things and encourage the children to see themselves as stewards of nature. But deep down they still think living things are the best crawly toys ever.

On our second day at Lassen I was hot to get to bubbly volcanic sulfurous things. But my friend Judith, newly arrived (with salad!), suggested we walk from our campsite to and around Manzanita Lake. We were awaiting more friends who would want to see the lavaworks, so why not? Manzanita Lake turned out to be a hot spot. Not geothermally, but for good crawly toys.

And it was stunningly scenic.
Yay!  Friends!

The kids adored the ephemeral ecosystems on floating logs below.
And I loved the views.

And then began the parade of wildlife. 
Some things stayed out of our reach.
But not this handful of baby lizards that Evelyn caught.
Or this long garter snake.

We did not try to touch this Douglas squirrel.  He's put on his winter coat and the squirrel equivalent of a hat with a pom pom--his darling ear tufts.
We could probably have touched these very tame foraging deer.
Evelyn snapped these deer photos.
We wondered what they were eating. There wasn't anything green around except pine needles. So when they moved on, we investigated.
Mushrooms!  In this photo you can just make out that the mother deer has a big mushroom cap in her mouth.

I wondered if that meant those mushrooms would be edible for people, but did not try my luck.

Evelyn discovered in our mammal guide that deer aren't the only mammals to eat fungi.  Chipmunks are connoisseurs of truffles.  We wondered if you could train a pet chipmunk as a truffler.  Chipmunks also like forbs the book told us.   What, you ask, are forbs?  The question bothered us throughout our internet-less stay at Lassen.  But you can just click on the word forbs.

Look at the tiny snake head between Evelyn's fingers.  It must have been reptile hatching day at Manzanita Lake.

Ok, which one is cuter, snake or girl?
We watched this dipper playing in the rapids.
See his little head below?
Next up, bubbly volcanic sulfurous things.  And cuddly extremophilic bacteria.

If you already knew what forbs were (or have anything else to say) leave a comment.

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