Free Time on Their Day Off


What could be better on a day off than a nature walk?

Nature walk

We are blessed to live just five minutes from the glorious and extensive American River Parkway. Although I grew up around here, I really didn’t use this local resource until I had children of my own. I revel in the opportunity to spend a few hours in the middle of what seems like nowhere— sometimes, on days like this, we can carve a glorious afternoon out of our busy schedules.



Out here, the sky is bluer, the dry grasses smell sweeter, the fallen acorns are plentiful, and the sunshine through the wild grapes vines and wild figs is like millions of stained-glass windows in gold and green, orange and red. The river runs swift most of the year, and right now the salmon are struggling upstream to spawn.


But on this day, we never made it to the actual river. We found a sleepy pond with cool, clear water and a sandy beach. Our hike fizzled here, in favor of staying and playing in water and on shore.

Always striving

There was important leaping to do.


And flying.


You can see why we stayed, right? Even our little dog deigned to get his fancy paws wet and dirty.


He’s not much of a water dog, but we’ve seen him become braver over the last couple of years as we have taken him along with us on our family adventures in nature.



Lucas waded far out into the water to pick up this damaged dragonfly. After a few moments of resting in Lucas’s hand, it flew away despite missing half a wing.


The whole thing was utterly sublime—sparkles on the water and yogic reflections, warm sun, and a cool breeze in the shade—until my boys realized that this was an ideal place to play shoot-’em-up war games. And since my rules on such behavior are “No shooting/war in the house” and “No shooting/explosions/laser sound effects in the car,” I had to admit they were within bounds to play that game there. We moseyed on home not too long after they started that, however.

Great blue heron

This is a great blue heron surveying his territory. He sat there on his perch like a king the whole time we enjoyed his pond.

Ian’s Birthday Hike


These photos are glorious shots taken my my dear friend Tate at Ian’s 40th birthday hike—at the beginning of last month. I’m grateful to Tate for taking them and letting me share them here.


Acorn led us on a local hike to Lake Natomas, created by the Nimbus Dam along the American River. He haunts this area a lot and knows where to find the Indian grinding rocks and sunbathing turtles.


It was a warm October day and both the kids and Suki the dog enjoyed brief splashes in the water.



Several friends were able to join us and it was a fun way to spend the day. It felt great to get outside and picnic together.


Sun hats for everyone!


Any day the kids get to wear their camelbaks is a good one in their view.




If I forgot to say it before, many thanks to those that came to celebrate Ian’s birthday with us. We had an epic weekend of fun and friends.

Miners Ravine Nature Walk

A tidal wave of work is coming my way, so the projects I presently have in hand consumed some of my weekend. This isn’t really so bad, except the weather was heavenly and my darlings headed off to the zoo without me on Saturday. I realized after they left that I’ve missed rather a lot of Asher’s zoo trips. This must be corrected soon.

Two strategy guides are hitting my inbox this week. A development task that was pushed off in favor of helping another editor with an urgent deadline is now coming due. My novel edit is due on Friday. Whee!

And still … I walked away from all of this to join my family on a little surprise adventure. We have a lovely book called Best Hikes with Children Around Sacramento and today we tried out a short, easy hike in Granite Bay at a place called Miners Ravine. It’s only a half-mile loop, but it sure was pretty! Honestly, California in the springtime—even in the Central Valley—is fantastic.


The bees were out in force! Many wildflowers were tickled by their buzzy paramours today. I took lots of wildflower/bee photos. Cuz I’m that kind of girl.


I don’t know for sure, but I think this white bubbly stuff might be spittle bug spittle.

Acorn Grinding Rock

We found a granite rock with lots of acorn grinding holes used by the Native Americans of the area—Miwoks, I believe.

Family Portrait

Isn’t the automatic timer on the camera cool?

Pink Clover and Lupines

Purple lupines and pink clover.

Found Treasure

Lucas found a treasure! And see his gappy grin? He lost another top tooth last week. The seventh, if I’m not mistaken.

Pond Ripples

We came across a shadowy pond with yummy reflections of the live oaks overhead and ceaseless ripples from bugs’ movements.

Scaling the Granite Rock

This granite boulder was enormous. Wherever Lucas goes, Asher must follow. ‘Twas ever the way for brothers.

It was such a great day! I’m glad to be taking advantage of this cool, comfortable weather while it lasts, and am very much looking forward to trying more local hikes recommended in our book. Our adventure ended with another exciting surprise, but I’ll save that for a different post.

  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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