Family Reflections

Reflections from a Mother-Daughter Volunteer Naturalist Morning 


It was a sunny, May morning as we headed out to Bald Hill to start our volunteer naturalist walk. I was eager to show my visiting mom, Jan, what I had learned about bird and plant identification in my volunteer naturalist orientation. Although my mom is currently an immunization nurse in Colorado, her undergraduate degree is in botany and I was excited to test her knowledge with some tree IDs!

Although I have been out to Bald Hill many times to run on the winding trails, this was one of my first experiences quietly walking and simply noticing. We often stopped, kneeling next to an interesting flower to count the leaves and observe the careful orientation of the petals. Our ears were tuned to birdsong and our eyes scanned the sky for aerial activity. We observed (and identified!) a pair of tree swallows fastidiously building their nest and we smiled at the small, peppermint stripes on the woodland candy flower.

It was such a treat to share that calm morning with my mom. I feel a swell of gratitude that she raised me with an appreciation for the small wonders of the outside world and that she and I could share this appreciation together for a couple of quiet, morning hours.

Greenbelt Volunteer Naturalist, Ellen Aster, and her mom, Jan, explore Bald Hill Farm together.


Ellie grew up in small town New Mexico with praying mantises on door screens, hummingbirds at the feeder, and an occasional tarantula climbing over grass blades in the back yard, so it was wonderful to accompany her on the Bald Hill hike and observe her naturalist skills.  Spring was pushing up from the damp earth, the swallows were busy building their nests, alder catkins moved slightly in the breeze.  The cycle of life open to all with curiosity.  And we tried to identify as much as we could and to use our senses to understand the processes of living going on all around us. Bald Hill- a little gem tucked away outside Corvallis, a little special time for mom and daughter.

Ellen and Jan were thrilled to see wildflowers in bloom, especially purple camas and bulbous buttercups.