Teen Training, Exploring Wild Urban Spaces

Crab Apple Blossoms

Never Too Young To Build Work Experience

This week, my oldest — officially a teen — began exploring community service opportunities with another classmate. It’s never too early to start building that education resumé not only to potentially earn some income through high school, but also to be distinguished among all the other hundreds of college applicants when the time comes.

All of my kids are hard workers. When a ‘free day’ is at stake, there is little pushing by me to complete 5-day’s lessons in only four, so that Friday can be a relished day off. Since John’s interview would be at a park location in Houston, we decided to just stay and explore there for a while instead of rushing back home. We would only need to beat rush hour traffic. No problem.

We love this part of the on-line school curriculum and schedule: work/play flexibility. So while all the other tens of thousands of school kids are sitting in classrooms or on buses, we would be enjoying the cool, beautiful day outdoors.

Russ Pitman Park, Urban Wildlife

Nature Discovery Center

57. Russ Pitman Park, Bellaire, Texas

Upon arrival, the kids straight away gravitated toward the animals on site. Rabbits, in addition to few tortoises and a Northern Bobwhite resided in large enclosures outside. Upstairs in the building, there was a myriad of amphibians and reptiles, stuffed specimens and lots of other teaching tools for nature. It was apparent that this was a place designed for training nature kids.

So while my teen hung out and visited with his good friend after the interview, chatting about video games and the latest movie craze, the rest of the bunch went off exploring on their own, free-range style.

Bunnies!

The Main Building, Previously a Residence

Finding myself suddenly abandoned with only a camera and field lenses on an extraordinarily beautiful day — quiet space around me — I did what any sane person would do: go birding and soak it all in. The message board said that there were Eastern Screech Owls nested in one of the boxes, and though I never did find any of the owls, I saw plenty of ‘urban’ bird activity throughout the trails.

All of my birdie subjects were particularly cooperative! They must have known I was coming.

Northern Cardinal

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Blue Jay Taking a Bath

On my short hike, I didn’t realize how close the park was from a swimming pool that I frequented in high school. My good friends were all life-guards there, and I would go ‘hang out’ with them whenever I could get the car away from a competing sibling (three of us shared a car). Many-a-great memory flooded my senses; I suddenly realized I was smiling with my whole body. Why is she taking pictures of that empty parking lot? passersby looked to be thinking, trying to divert their gazes as they walked by me.

Too bad they don’t feel the joy in my heart that exists every day.

Road noise was at a minimum, not something I would have expected in such a dense urban location. I heard the distinct cluck of the Coopers Hawk who flew in to light directly above me, looking for a meal.

Coopers Hawk

Strangely, the birds all just disappeared. Bird buffet had just opened for business. As Inner-Loop Houston is no fun to navigate during certain stretches of the day, we thought it be best to head back.

This place has lots of potential for adding migratory species starting late this month. We will be coming back here for sure!

Back home, fluffy bunny booties continue to taunt me. One day I swear I will get them all three lined up like this. It’s only a matter of time. So cute.

THE END.

Stay tuned for Monday’s winner!
The contest closes tomorrow at noon. Don’t wait.

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