Tag Archives: nature

Life at the Middle: Opposites Attract

My husband and I are close, but we don’t always agree. The first four years of our marriage, we lived in a house with bare white walls, because we couldn’t settle on even one single picture. Over time our tastes have converged. We can now buy a couch or decorate a room without busting into an argument. But there is one thing about which we still disagree.

Despite my love of running, I am not an outdoorsy person, and I accept this about myself.  I’m a city girl, a New Yorker in fact. I moved there when I was 17, and it never occurred to me that I would live anywhere else.

I stay pale all summer. I love to walk too, but on city streets thank you, with shop windows, restaurants and street lights at night. I get nervous when the concrete ends. Plants are pretty (although don’t make the mistake of trusting me with yours); flowers are lovely, and I love trees. But I do not care for moving nature. What I’m trying to tell you, is that nature is fine with me, as long as it stays in place.

My husband, on the other hand, is a bona-fide nature boy. Having grown up a scholar, with most of his time spent reading and writing, he loves the outdoors.  He’s a self-declared friend of nature- and all those who live in it. He stops to admire frogs, or marvel at the geometric simplicity of certain bugs. And as often as the not too bright squirrels in our neighborhood fling themselves under the wheels of the car, he always swerves to avoid hitting them. 

His true weakness however, is turtles. My husband fancies himself a friend of the turtle, and like every nine year old boy, he loves to touch them. Driving with him is an adventure because whenever possible, he brakes for turtles.  If they’ve wandered into the street, he jumps out of the car and moves them to safety. And although I have tried to make my position on moving nature clear to him, this once almost became a problem.  

Out for a drive one day, my husband spied a turtle in distress. He put on his turtle saving super hero costume and leapt out of the car. But instead of delivering the turtle to safety, he decided to present it to me as a gift. As the turtle’s tiny head got closer and closer to mine, it’s wrinkled neck craning up to see me, I got more and more nervous, until I finally shouted, “I do not need to meet that tortoise!”

Seven years have passed since that near tete a tete encounter. While we now have clarity regarding what constitutes cute (puppies) versus gross (amphibians), my distaste for moving nature remains unchanged. I still do not appreciate turtles, frogs and the dreaded S creatures. On the issue of bugs, a division of labor has been arranged; I spot the nasty critters, and my husband disposes of them.

Beth Herman in an artist and essayist. She enjoys running the hills of Charlottesville and the city streets of Washington D.C., in almost equal measure.

Fall Activities Your Family Will Love

Crisp air, changing leaves and cozy knit sweaters signify the return of autumn. Fall can be a busy time for most families, juggling back-to-school routines, carpools, homework, after school events and sports practice. Now is a great time to slow down, bring the whole family together and enjoy all of the exciting activities fall has to offer.

Here are a few fun ways to spend quality time with your family and relish in fall to the fullest:

1. Visit an apple orchard.

This is a great way to make the most of the beautiful fall weather and do something active with the family. Use apples to make apple sauce, a tasty tart or just slice them up for a great on-the-go snack. Try unique apple varieties you’ve never tried – they all taste a bit different! Pack a picnic for the orchard and make the most of the day!

2. Go for a nature walk.

With the vibrant, colorful leaves and the cool, crisp air, autumn is a great time to get your family outdoors and learn more about nature in a local nature preserve or state park. Pick up a few fall mementos along the way to integrate into crafts. For example, bring home some colorful leaves and decoupage them onto the outside of a mason jar to create a seasonal fall candle holder, or create a lively fall-inspired canvas incorporating several different leaf shapes and colors.

3. Gear up for Halloween.

Host a Halloween themed get-together by incorporating fun foods the kids can help prepare and will love to eat! Use a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter to create cut-out cookies and involve the kids in decorating – with everything from sprinkles to frosting. Or, for a quick and easy themed treat, try making marshmallow lollipops drizzled with chocolate or caramel dip, then use chopped nuts or candy bits to make ghoulish faces.

4. Visit a local farmers market.

Fall offers a whole new repertoire of amazing fresh fruits and vegetables. Encourage your kids to try new items like figs, acorn squash or cauliflower. If they find samples that they enjoy, purchase a few and find a way to incorporate them into your next meal. You can also buy items such as tomatoes and pickle peppers in bulk, and then can at the end of season to store for the long winter ahead.

5. Have a bonfire.

As the weather cools down, bonfires are a great way to stay warm at night and make lasting family memories. Gather everyone together and reconnect by huddling around the fire in cozy blankets. Pour mugs of warm apple cider and munch on Nutty Caramel Popcorn while swapping ghost stories over the glow of the fire.

NUTTY CARAMEL POPCORN

1/2 cup caramel dip (We like Marzetti Old Fashioned Caramel Dip, but you could easily make your own!)

2 tablespoons butter

8 cups popped microwave plain popcorn

1/2 cup peanuts

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside. Melt butter in small saucepan. Stir in dip; simmer over low heat five minutes, stirring frequently. Pour mixture over popcorn and peanuts in prepared dish. Stir until evenly coated. Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely in dish on wire rack, about 45 minutes.