Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Humblebee Hunter

Last night we found a cicada nymph out on our back step.  They crawl out of the ground and then shed their skin to transform into the winged adult.  Charlotte and I quickly got a jar to put him in and brought him inside.

It was very late and we had to go to bed. So after looking up what cicada's eat (Charlotte wanted to know) and watching a mini video of how they emerge from their nymph skin, we went upstairs to sleep, leaving our jar on the kitchen counter.

This morning, there clutching the twig we put in for him, was the now transformed cicada.  I showed Henry, the first one up, and then when Charlotte tiptoed down the stairs bleary-eyed I told her I had a surprised for her.

I think this is amazing, how children can experience first hand the wonders of the natural world.  I confess I don't know much about Charles Darwin (I've a biography on my 'to read' list), but I love this picture book and hope that it's true.  What a gift to give your kids the joy of curiosity and wonderment about the world around us.  This is why we spend afternoons at the creek, find bugs and have to identify them, look at moss in the backyard through a magnifying glass, collect leaves, point out animals and birds we know. I hope my children are always as curious and amazed as I am about nature.
Inspired by the Life and Experiments of Charles Darwin and his Children
Deborah Hopkinson
pictures by Jen Corace 2010

In this story, told by one of Darwin's daughters, he enlists his kids in helping with his bumblebee experiment (they were called 'humblebees' in the Victorian days). He sends them around the garden to count how many flowers a bumblebee visits in a minute. 

One summer afternoon, Mother and Cook tried to teach me to bake a honey cake.  But raspberries glistened in the sun, and birds brushed the air with song.  More than anything, I wanted to be outside.

Later this morning, when Madeleine finally woke up (close to 11am) we brought the cicada outside and watched his first awkward clumsy attempts at flying.  He buzzed his wings and fell over on his back a few times.  Charlotte got a stick and was just about to help him, when he lifted his body in flight slowly around our heads then higher into the air.  Higher and higher he flew, past the big oak tree and beyond our sight.  Charlotte said he was going to find his family but I expect he was going to join his brothers' singing.

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