Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Looking for animals, we found avocados.

Jonah has been asking for several days to go "see animals". We've made a few trips over the past few weeks to Rancho San Antonio's Deer Hollow Farm and he thoroughly enjoyed watching/chasing the goats, chickens, etc. Today, I decided to go explore Blackberry Farm and the neighboring McClellan Ranch. I visited several months ago and remembered a nice walking/biking trail in the area that went by fenced-in farm animals.

It was a beautiful winter day-- in the 50s, sunny, barely a breeze. Here are my three youngest boys all ready to go. They have sand toys to play with at Blackberry Farm's playground:

The ride there was pleasant, but-- because of the mostly slight uphill-- quite slow. With three boys plus car seat, diaper bag, etc. and a 100 lb. bike, I figured out I'm probably pedaling around 200 or more pounds. Whoa! That doesn't make me feel so bad when nearly every biker I see passes me.

After riding around a little bit to find an entrance to the park (I was going by my not-perfect memory), we rode the little bike path by the farm. Looking closer I learned that it's actually part of a 4-H club and not open to the public, but we were able to kind of see a few goats and a donkey through the fence. Even that little glimpse of animals made Jonah happy. After the animal viewing, we went back to the playground where we settled in for a few hours of play and snacks. Nathaniel took a long nap in his car seat in the bakfiets. I moved around from picnic table to picnic table to stay in the little bit of sun the wooded area provided. While enjoying the calm and quiet of one kid sleeping and two happily playing, I kept noticing something falling from a huge tree behind me. I poked around the ground to investigate. I'm 99% sure they were avocados falling from an avacado tree. Here's the tree:

And the fruit:

I stashed some in the bike pannier and will let it ripen on the counter and-- maybe with another opinion confirming what it really is-- eat it! I noticed a couple of older women grabbing a few fruits as they walked by too. I didn't get a chance to ask them if the fruit really was avocados since I'd moved to the other side of the playground by then; bummer! The thought of finding free, yummy fruit is wonderful-- like a little secret that few others care or know about. While living in Chicago, we ate juneberries from the park across the street and mulberries from another park. I looked forward to doing that each summer, but-- considering that the berries were never totally picked-- most of the rest of the city apparently didn't.

After a while at the playground, we tootled around on a bridge over a creek-- dropping leaves into the water, playing with sticks, etc. We then headed over to the sunny sand-volleyball courts and Jonah and Joseph put their sand toys to good use while I nursed Jonah and took care of his leaked-everywhere very poopy mess.

I really needed a peaceful, outdoorsy morning like today. I was only sad that the rest of my family-- at school and work-- weren't there to enjoy it too. I especially thought of Gabriella. She had ear surgery last week and must not run or jump for five weeks in order for everything to heal (biking should be okay-- soon). I am extremely grateful for the good surgeon and modern medicine that have prevented what would have eventually caused total hearing loss and possibly neurological problems, but it just breaks my heart that something so pleasant as freely running about in the wild (or as close to that as you can get a few miles from home!) has to be temporarily restricted.

Our return trip was mostly uneventful-- a little fighting between the big boys and a sand toy (old yogurt container) dropped in traffic that I refused to try to retrieve, but a wonderful downhill on the home-side of the pedestrian bridge over the freeway.

And, as a finale, here's a few more photos from our morning:
Lots of sticks to play with.

This was actually pretty tricky to climb up on. Joey is proud of himself.

Very fast slide!

Sandbox fun.

Joey saved the chocolate pieces from his trail mix, and proceeded to make little designs with them. Here you also see the wonderful marker tattoo he adorned himself with this morning.
The boys spent a while looking at/dropping things in the creek. This evening, Jonah asked "see water?" (meaning,  "I want to see water".) It may be his new request, replacing the daily  "see animals"?

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