7

Leap Frog and Lizard Tycoons

The whale season this year has been extraordinary.  I am not exaggerating a bit when I tell you that for the last couple of months anytime we fixed our gaze on the water for at least ten minutes we would see some kind of whale activity.  3 mama humpbacks chose to give birth right off shore from us and have stayed within eyesight since then.  Mostly you see them spouting, always one big spout and one little one close beside.  Sometimes you just see their glistening black backs surfacing as they glide through the water.  But other times they wave their mammoth side fins in a giant Aloha or whack their tails against the water over and over and over again with such force and in such proximity that you can actually hear the echoing “Crack!” each time the tail comes down.  The most amazing sight of all is when their whole bodies torpedo upward out of the water and then come crashing down like a tower.  I can’t help but gasp in awe every time they breach.

About as good a shot of a whale as I could get from shore with my phone.

About as good a shot of a whale as I could get from shore with my phone.

My boys however seem to have lost interest.  I suppose it was exciting enough for them at first but now they are quite bored of the humpback antics.  This ambivalence might be attributed to the fact that while they can see a whale at a distance and if they’re lucky, hear it from far away, that’s about the only interaction they’ll ever have with one of these magnificent creatures.  And frankly. that’s not really the kind of relationship they’re looking for.  Boys like to be a bit more hands on when it comes to nature.  For evidence of this just scroll back to my previous post entitled “Lizards and Snakes…and the boys who love them.”  Who cares about a big old whale way out there in the ocean when there might be a renegade Coqui frog needing to be caught just right outside their door?  And it’s not that they prefer land creatures to sea creatures.  They just seem to prefer the kind of sea creature you can pull out of it’s hiding place in the tide pools and temporarily house in a bucket for “observation.”

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I really feel that environmentalists often do a great disservice to their own cause when they make nature so inaccessible to everyone but themselves.  Children will never grow to have an affinity for or sense of responsibility for something that has always been held out at a distance from them.  If nature is off limits then why should they care about it?  They’ll put their attention and affections toward whatever’s within easy reach.  Like lizards.  Which brings me to an update on last week’s epic lizard haul.  Exactly what happened to the poor reptilian captives?  You’ll be happy to know that most were released back into the wild but a few fell prey to a rather exploitative operation.

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That’s right folks.  For just 25 cents, you too, could have a close encounter with a Gecko or for just pennies more, upgrade to an Anole and have it all memorialized on camera for posterity or next years Christmas cards.

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The little tycoons brought in 7 bucks after just an hour’s work.  Not counting the half a day spent catching the poor, unsuspecting critters. And I mean the lizards.  Not the tourists.

So while Tom and I spend the sunset hour sitting on the beach or the golf course watching the whales frolic, the boys seem perfectly content ignoring the spectacular scenery and focusing on the more important tasks at hand.  Like playing Leap Frog.  And catching critters.  And plotting their next day’s adventures.

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7

Lizards and Snakes… and the boys who love them

I’m a huge fan of delight directed teaching.  The popular trend of delight directed learning is all well and good but if my boys were left to direct all their learning according to their own delights I shudder to think of the exact nature of knowledge thusly acquired.  Besides, delight directed learning is basically what’s going on every minute of the day that school’s not in session, so for just a couple of  hours they get to learn about all the things that Mom happens to delight in.  The past couple of weeks were an exception to that.  You see chapter 10 in our Apologia science text was all about lizards and snakes.  As much as I delight in God’s created world and Apologia’s exceptional methods of presenting it, I HATE lizards and snakes.  I can bait a hook, catch and clean a trout, pull those nasty gizzard things out of a turkey, and deal with all those gross infant and childhood bodily issues that only other mothers can relate to, but lizards and snakes still make me shudder. My boys know this and delight in that knowledge.  They were thrilled to get to chapter 10 just to watch me squirm and gag as I read aloud to them each day.  Thrilled to add their own bits of expertise to my uncomfortable narrative.  Thrilled to do extra research and illustrate their knowledge by making me piles of pictures of slithering creatures with horrid, beady, glittering eyes.  And especially thrilled to hunt down as many live specimens as could possibly be found.  And while there is a shocking abundance of lizards to be found here, one of the very loveliest features of this island is it’s absence of snakes.  Hawaii is said to have no snakes at all but leave it to my Joel to find the only one on the island right outside our building and get himself bitten by it.  Apparently, there actually is one kind of snake here and it is called the Blind Snake and while the Pacific Islands National Parks website assured us that they are harmless and do not bite the tiny little puncture wounds on Joel’s index finger prove otherwise.  Incidentally, it was also Joel who at the age of 4 walked right up on a big old rattle snake back in California and thankfully had enough sense to back away while Dad “disarmed” it with a shovel.  Enough about snakes.   On to lizards.

Hawaii is absolutely crawling with geckos.  They get in your house, your car, and if you have little boys around and aren’t careful they’ll even end up in your hair.  According to my boys there are several species of geckos on our island but the most popular is the Madagascar variety after which the Geico mascot is modeled.  Only here they crawl on all fours and don’t talk.  They do chirp however.  At night.  Usually from the ceiling right over your head.

Oil-on-canvas Gecko by Titus

Oil-on-canvas Gecko by Titus

There is also the much slower moving Jackson’s Chameleon to be found which the boys have made pets of a couple times.  The first one we named The Reverend and the second was Stonewall.

This chameleon got away before we could name it anything.

This chameleon got away before we could name it anything.

Today I sent the three middle boys downstairs around 9:30 to burn some energy by running laps.  They got sidetracked catching yet another kind of lizard called Anoles and by 2:00 had relocated about a dozen of them to the pineapple patch outside our building.  Yep, when they’re too busy to even come in for lunch you know they’re having a good time.  Now that was some hardcore delight directed learning going on there.

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This week we’re moving on to amphibians.  Oh joy.

I did find one pretty thing in the pineapple patch... our first baby pineapple!

I did find one pretty thing in the pineapple patch… our first baby pineapple!