Last evening, Cherub 1 was walking along beside the pond and spied a brown furry creature splashing and swimming (playing ?) in the water along the edge -- when it spotted Cherub 1 approaching, it dove into the water's edge and disappeared from sight.
Cherub 1 raced to the house in search of our nature guide books -- to see what the brown fuzzy creature shaped like a beaver (but NOT a beaver) , had a rather blunt nose or "smooshed" face, and had a long naked gray tail that was thicker than a rat's tail. What could it be ????
After looking, he was not positive, but was fairly sure it was a Muskrat (photo of a muskrat below courtesy of enature.com).
As we were discussing his discovery, I showed him this blog post ( http://shadybrookacres.blogspot.com/2008/03/rewards-of-exploring.html ) by our friend MamaLion (Thanks MamaLion !) that included photos of raccoon tracks she found near their house -- and immediately Cherub 1 was inspired and quickly dashed back to the pond's edge with camera in hand for a bit of tracking before it got too dark to see.
He said "maybe if I find tracks I can be sure that it IS a muskrat ..."
It was not long before Cherub 1 found many little footprints along the water's edge where he had previously spied the little brown fellow. In the very wet sandy, rocky soil with the setting sun glaring down, however, getting a clear photo showing all 5 toe-prints was a challenge. He took twelve photos of the footprints from various angles and heights, and this was the best except that one toeprint is difficult to see unless it is quite enlarged:
In the end, the foot prints around the pond edge where he initially spied the little creature CONFIRMED exactly what he originally suspected -- there is atleast one MUSKRAT living at the pond. (It is more likely that there is more than one, but so far only one has been spotted.)
So, after the indentification and photographs -- out came the sketch pad and pencils, for a Nature Journal entry. Cherub 1 used several guides to learn about these interesting creatures, and then worked on his sketch for the rest of the evening. He found them to be fascinating creatures.
Charlotte Mason was a wise woman .... she knew beyond-a-doubt that children would be fascinated with the natural world if only their attention could "latch on". Every time our children have one of these AH HA moments with God's Creation, I am thankful for the guidance and instruction Charlotte Mason so long ago put forth for children ... for my children. They are so blessed by her "methods".