If Charlotte were here she'd laugh herself silly at me. She'd watch my dumbfounded expression of shock and amazement as the children proved that their Nature lesson was anything but failure.
Here's how it went . . .
Oldest Child: (direct narration)
"My tree is a Pecan tree. The bark is really bumpy. I think spiders would like to live on this tree because of all the cracks and crevasses to hide in. I think birds and squirrels would like it because there is food. I saw a woodpecker pecking there once. The tree is definitely alive. In areas where the bark was pealed I noticed a spongy kind of stuff (good description!). It was a white, creamy color. I think there was mossy stuff, yeah, I think moss, growing around on the tree. It grew mostly higher up, near the middle where I like to climb. It was thin like a dark green, sort of turquoise paper. I think it is under 30 years old because I can hug it and have about a 1/2 inch of extra space left. That's all I really observed. Just spider webs and a few feathers caught on branches. There were a few insects crawling around it. I remember how the leaves smelled funny in summer. They are a grayish color when they die in the fall and winter. Most leaves fall at the end of fall or the very beginning of winter. I chose my tree because it's cool. I like climbing it and the mossy stuff got me interested."
Second Child: (direct narration)
"My tree is, umm. It's bark feels like the crust on burnt toast (How poetic!). It's leaves are oak leaves. They're brown. My tree's color is gray and I'm thinking it might have squirrels and cardinals and robins. That's what I discovered about my tree. I saw a squirrel jump onto the branch and climb up. I think it's a hundred feet tall. (hesitant pause) Well, I don't know how tall trees are, but this tree is super big! I'm thinking the leaves were a lot but not too much are there now. Some fell off. Maybe 60 leaves were still on my tree. I chose my tree because squirrels like it and I saw a squirrel nest there once. I didn't see one there today, but a clump of leaves where one might have been. I call my tree a boy. Are trees boys or girls?"
Third Child: (direct narration)
"My tree had soft bark on one side and hard bumpy bark on the other side. It had shell shaped leaves. My tree flowers in spring. Today I saw a bird in the tree. It has a nest there way up high, but I can climb there. The bird had a red belly and black feathers. I could see its chicks. They were cute. Their eyes weren't open yet. I saw a caterpillar worm thingy. It climbed onto my arm. It was thin and small and green. It had a hole in the bottom of the tree, like a knot kind of. I could easily hug around it. It's pretty skinny. The smooth side is where we climb. Maybe it's smooth because our shoes slide against it. (Good guess). It is right next to a rose bush."
Fourth Child: (direct narration)
"Okay. It was bumpy and there's this kind of, ugh, (thinking) grayish brown and umm, leaves with five pointy sides. There were little seeds on the leaves right near the middle under part. I didn't see anything on my tree today, but I saw a squirrel run up it once, trying to get away from a dog. My tree is big and too fat to hug. There were nutty things that look like nuts falling from the tree. It was little and had a cover on the top like a little hat with a stem (she's describing an acorn!). I think the tree has pretty leaves. There were still some leaves on the tree. There was a nest way at the top where there were no leaves. That's all I know about my tree . . . .and Mommy, it was really cold outside."
"Children should be made early intimate with the trees, too; should pick out half a dozen trees, oak, elm, ash, beech, in their winter nakedness, and take these to be their year-long friends."
~ Charlotte Mason Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children, p.52
As for the cold. Well, consider what Charlotte says about rain:
"But what about the wet days? The fact is, that rain, unless of the heaviest, does the children no harm at all if they are suitably clothed."
~ Charlotte Mason Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children
I'm thinking a pleasant 60 degree, dry January day is perfectly harmless too. ;)