I’m still catching up with the week – we got a touch of the pukes – but I’ve been reminiscing about the last of the Mass Audubon Early Fall Classes for Toddlers. You can read the others HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. It was another beautiful fall day looking at the leaves and trees and nuts and birdies and squirrels at the sanctuary in Ipswich. And I learned a bit about oaks. Did you know that there are 600 different oak species? Only a couple of weeks ago I learned that there are white and red oaks – an interest inspired by being clonked on the head by different types of acorns. Now I need a whole new vocabulary, and do lots more browsing of Wikipedia, because I have access to Annette Swain’s wisdom only once a week. The coolest oak acorn we found on Wednesday was from a Burr Oak – it looked like the acorn was having a sleep in a little fuzzy sleeping bag. Though that might have been projecting my own desires, since Jen has been going through a stretch of nursing every 45 minutes.
And I have to tell everyone that I took one for the team. One of the kids found an enormous spiky caterpillar. Most of the kids were QUITE keen to hold it. Alex wasn’t. Annette helpfully asked him if mama should hold it. THAT’S ME! For the record, I don’t do bugs very well. But I was brave and held this ginormous caterpillar in my hand for, like, a whole minute.
And some more outdoor nerdy-ness from Wikipedia:
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus (pronounced /ˈkwɜrkəs/; Latin “oak tree”), of which about 600 species exist on earth. “Oak” may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus. The genus is native to the northern hemisphere, and includesdeciduous and evergreen species extending from cold latitudes to tropical Asia and the Americas.
Oaks have spirally arranged leaves, with a lobed margin in many species; some have serrated leaves or entire leaves with a smooth margin. The flowers are catkins, produced in spring. The fruit is a nut called an acorn, borne in a cup-like structure known as a cupule; each acorn contains one seed (rarely two or three) and takes 6–18 months to mature, depending on species.