As I write this, it's below freezing outside and snow covers the icy ground. It definitely feels like winter. I've barely left the house all week, but just a month ago we were having a mild November and embracing our time outdoors before our long Minnesota winter set in.
One sunny day we bundled up (more than was necessary, it turns out) and explored Westwood Hills Nature Center which is located not far from our home and a favorite get away. I love this little patch of nature hidden in my suburban neighborhood set right outside the city. It's as if you've escaped the bustling metropolis for a bit without really needing to leave the city at all. If it wasn't for the hum of cars from the highway nearby it would be quite believable that you'd driven out to the country.
There are a number of paths to explore so we decided to start by heading up the path behind the nature center building. As we came upon the the bird feeding area we encountered a turkey. I've seen turkey's here almost every time I've visited recently, but usually they are in a group. This guy was by himself and slightly wary of us, but he had the bird feeding area to himself so he didn't seem too eager to leave either. We watched him a bit before moving on.
After our excitement of seeing a turkey, we went forth on a mission. Several years back people noticed nature art along the trail... pictures of owls, bears, dogs, and other animal would show up from time to time on the trunk of an old tree. Eventually, they tracked down the artist who happened to be a local nanny. Apparently, she updates her art multiple times a week, but I'd never come across one myself until recently, when I decided to take a path up by the pines instead of down by the boardwalk. I was alone so Riley didn't get to see it. I knew she'd love to find one on her own so I hoped we'd come across one in the same area. We walked the path to where I had found a gorilla, and came across a lion. It looked a little old, but we were still excited to find this creation.
We noticed another person nearby, but it wasn't until we got closer that we realized it was the artist herself. We stopped and chatted a bit with Chelsea and then left her to finish what she was working on. We explored further on, but had to come back on the same path and were able to see the finished product. Riley was delighted to see they were cats, her favorite animal ever.
We noticed Chelsea gathering materials so we knew she wasn't done making creations and we couldn't leave yet. We wandered around and I tried to get us down by the marsh, but Riley to anxious to get back to see what new nature art she might find.
We were right that the lion was old as it was replaced by a couple dogs. Riley brought her journal and pencil on our excursion so she was making notes and naming each of these creatures.
The last one we came across was this owl before making a quick stop by the marsh before heading home. Chelsea shared that she updates these weekly so we are sure to go back, especially since we know where to find them now. And while I love a good walk through the woods, it's nice to see someone be inspired by nature in a new way.