It was the first day of autumn and a bright and beautiful day. I was on my way to Forest Park Nature Center, where I was reading "Rachel and Sammy Learn About Trees" and leading a nature walk. After a busy morning of doing household chores and preparing for the program, it was almost a relief to hop into the car and begin the hour long drive.
I headed south in my car and enjoyed the shelter from the brisk and windy day; it felt good to absorb the solar heat. As I drove up the bluff near the small town of Tiskilwa, I noticed the leaves on a few maple trees starting to turn into various shades of red, orange, and gold. In sharp contrast to these earthy colors were the periwinkle-colored asters blooming in the understory.
The sky was a bright blue, and with harvest beginning early this year, several corn fields were picked, allowing for uninterrupted views of the countryside. I drove past several fields that had combines, trucks, tractors, and wagons working away, a sure sign that fall had arrived. Closer to my destination of Peoria, I went by Tanner's Orchard, which was bustling with business. Beautiful mums, pumpkins, and other fall decorations were scattered around, and added to the beauty of the day.
Soon I arrived at the Forest Park Nature Center, and I was treated to more fall splendor! The prairie plot near the front entrance was ablaze with color and texture, and birds and insects were buzzing around the plants. The trees were full of seeds, nuts, and fruits, which would make good food for the animals that lived in the area.
I unloaded my crate of book supplies and entered the building. I was excited to have the opportunity to read the new edition of "Rachel and Sammy Learn About Trees" to a group for the first time. Chock full of information on tree parts, tree products, photosynthesis, and more, this book also contains 41 photos and 16 realistic illustrations that help teach readers the basics about trees. I had brought several leaf specimens to illustrate the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees, alternate and opposite leaves, and a few others to show children the diversity of leaves. After the reading, we went outdoors to enjoy the fall scenery and hiked along the nature trail, just like Rachel Raccoon, Sammy Skunk, and the other the characters in the book! All in all, it was a great day to Learn About Trees!