I live in a place where there are plenty of beautiful and interesting things to see…and I work to see my place anew each day. But it’s hard sometimes. And sometimes I end up seeing the same things I always see.
And I think that happens for students too. The classroom becomes familiar and learning looks like the same old thing. That’s where field trips come in…they offer opportunities for students to see learning through fresh eyes, in a different context, in a different place.
I was definitely feeling the need for some fresh eyes today. After working for eight straight Saturdays, today was rare free one and we made plans for a “field trip” to the desert. We’re lucky here in San Diego, we have coast–beautiful beaches–near where I live and not even two hours to the east, we have the desert. So today, we headed to the desert to see what spring had to offer.
We were hoping for a riotous spring bloom knowing that we’ve had a bit of rain since the new year. But once we arrived, we learned that spring had sprung…in February! Luckily, there were still beautiful desert flowers in evidence–maybe not a riotous display, but definitely worth the trip.
Our first glimpse of the desert this morning came from above. As we looked over the valley below, we noticed the quiet. I caught this moment of my husband drinking in the silence.
The desert is already warm this time of year, so we set out early for a hike, knowing it would likely be near 90 degrees by the time we got back to our car. We watched for desert flowers, for snakes (especially rattlesnakes), for big horned sheep, and birds and bugs too. And we weren’t disappointed.
The cholla cactus (the first photo), was pretty plentiful and many were blooming. The prickly pear was less obvious, and many were not blooming. I felt lucky to catch this one right near the end of our hike!
Lizards skittered across our path, sunned themselves on rocks, and raced into cracks in the rocks. Butterflies, moths, and bees were drawn to the plentiful yellow flowers. I noticed this caterpillar hanging from a slender stalk. (Love that caterpillars will pose!)
The snake we saw was slithering in the spaces between rocks…and luckily we only caught a glimpse…and it didn’t appear to be a rattler. We didn’t linger–no sense tempting fate when it comes to snakes! But we did catch sight of some big horn sheep. There was quite a group–12, I think–coming down to a stream near the oasis we hiked to. Here are a few we watched from some rocks above.
Their coloring is amazing–making them nearly invisible in the rocky locale. We saw babies as well as adults…you can see them stopping to check out whether to bolt back up the hillside!
It was surprising to see a waterfall deep in the desert. We could hear the running water before we saw it. And the California fan palm, the only palm tree native to California, completed that iconic image of oasis. Shade, water…and a nice place to rest before heading back into the hot sun to finish our hike.
My husband snapped this shot of me traversing a shallow portion of the small stream!
I feel like I got to view spring through fresh eyes today. I was looking closely and responding to novelty. I snapped photos and then when I returned home, looked up information about some of what I saw. I had to try and retry framing my shots, not sure how to capture the tall ocotillo reaching up toward the hot desert sun with the desert cliffs as backdrop.
Today’s field trip was just what I needed…a chance to see the world with fresh eyes, to go beyond the familiar and rekindle my interest in learning about this place I call home.