Monthly Archives: October 2009

Mystery Critter #28

A Pirates Eyes For Me

Happy Halloween, my nature detectives! I know you are busy with the ghosts and goblins today, so let’s get right to it.

Put on those thinking caps and good luck cracking the case!


  • I am found throughout a large part of North America;
  • My habitat is swampy forests and wet woodland areas;
  • My diet includes frogs, rodents, and crayfish; and
  • Along with a few other critters, I am a symbol of Halloween

What am I? Make your guess, and then go here for the answer and more interesting facts. Did you get it right?! If not, no worries — you’ll have another chance next week!

Between the parties, pumpkin patches, and trick-or-treating this weekend, make some time to get out and connect with the nature in your neighborhood.

And don’t forget to let everyone know what you see! Join the Wildobs community and report your wildlife observations. It’s a great way to keep track of your wild adventures and share info with others.

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

Creative Commons License photo credit: JoshuaDavisPhotography.COM

Frolic Friday With “The Other You”

Happy Frolic Friday!

Late October in Binghamton, NY (I)

Join my friend @cheecker and I this weekend and head for the forest! To help you get fired up, watch this brief PSA. (You know how much I love to use my outside voice!)

Whether you are a parent or not, time spent outdoors in nature is part of a healthy, happy lifestyle. If there are kids in your world, making an effort to introduce them to the wonders of nature will pay off in so many ways!

This weekend, why not…

As always, it doesn’t matter what you do, just get out there and have some fun. And don’t forget, be nice to the squirrels. I just might be watching.  ;-)

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

Creative Commons License photo credit: jdanvers

The Mighty Crayon


TGSG Note: It should come as no surprise to anyone that I am nuts about crayons. If I had to pick one toy that brought me the most joy throughout childhood, it was my box of 64 crayons (with the sharpener, of course!). So, I was thrilled when my friend (and Mystery Critter devotee), Lon S. Cohen wrote this guest post. So, sit back and enjoy. And, if you like, let us know what your favorite color crayon was as a kid!

PS: I totally still have a box of 64 crayons on my desk. Some things never change. And I have dibs on Orange-Yellow!

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

What’s the first thing a kid learns to draw with? A crayon. You may think crayons are the mundane stuff of childhood picture projects or the appliqué of refrigerator faire, but they are much more than that. They are the stuff your imagination was first made of. The humble crayon is the most joyful instrument of a child’s mind. It’s blunt enough so as to not require great skill to master yet subtle enough to produce a masterpiece.

There’s a distinctive waxy smell to an old box of crayon. You know what they look like instantly. Either an old shoe box or one of those newer plastic cases, the insides stained with bits and streaks of pigment, paper rolls and colorful little nubs. The smell that escapes is filled with both old memories and new dreams. It’s said to be one of the most distinctively recognizable scents for adults. No wonder. Crayons could smell like old socks and one whiff would still fill me with nostalgia.

The crayon, more than anything else, for me is childhood. Few things represent better how I spend many of my days than sitting at the table or lying on the floor, a blank pad or coloring book splayed out in front of me and the blankness calling to be filled in. There was always renewed hope that this time I’d be able to stay inside all the lines. But that’s not always the best way. At times going outside the lines was exactly what was needed.

There is a certain happiness that comes from coloring with crayons. You’ve done it. Sat side-by-side with your child and attempted to recapture the spirit you once had. Perhaps even getting so immersed in making just one more perfectly colored page you forget that you’re the parent, grabbing at colors you just need to have for one part of the picture or another. But that’s the thing; it can wait. You can color around a green tree or yellow flower or blue sea and come back to it later.

We learn while sharing that old box of used crayons that sometimes there aren’t enough colors to go around. Sometimes you just have to wait until someone else is done with the color you want. So either you sit patiently or move on to something else in the meanwhile trying to stay constructive while completing the task of filling in all the shapes. It’s not easy to color a picture in a book. There are more questions that you realize. Do I color the outside to the edges? It the sun yellow, white or orange? Can a boat be blue? The lines don’t make it clear to me if I should stop here and start again there.

These are the simple challenges we face with a box of crayons and a new coloring book. Remember how that felt? The newness of a perfectly sharpened jumbo-sized box of crayons? All the colors lined up, the wrappers tight and clean, not torn but perfectly cut straight at the tip. Capture that feeling. Use it in the world around you and remember to encourage your children to take a break from the distraction for a little quiet time with a box of crayons. It’s time very well spent.

Guest Blogger Bio: A frog-catching dad and amateur backyard detective, Lon S. Cohen is a freelance writer from New York. You can follow him on Twitter @obilon.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Dyanna

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