Ramble with Storm: Hedge-apple bowling & getting kids outside

SHARE Ramble with Storm: Hedge-apple bowling & getting kids outside

Mulling things on my morning ramble with Storm, our family’s mixed Lab.

I have little use for organized programs to get kids outside. For the simple reason that I think that is misdirected. The beginning point should be getting the parents or adult care-givers outside.

That’s one of the reason I find the July closure of perch fishing in Chicago so reprehensible. That is the one month all kids are out of school and the most fundamental form of basic outdoor activity in Chicago is closed. So parents, grandparents and babysitters don’t have the kids on the lakefront. If perch season was open, the adults would have the kids on the lakefront, even if the perch weren’t in.

It just pisses me off no end.

Yet the Illinois Conservation Foundation will end up spending millions of dollars in years to come on maintaining Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center for youth programs, a good hour and a half or more from Chicago.

Explain the logic of that to me.


Yesterday, our kids had off for Columbus Day. So I sent them outside repeatedly, then finally took the youngest boy and his bud out for some hedge-apple bowling.

Our youngest and his sister created hedge-apple bowling last year while riding their bikes at the town pond.

It reminded me how my younger brother and I would invent many variations on baseball/stickball/kickball. How we made a basketball court in the basement with Hi-C juice cans nailed to the exposed open wood support beams and a ping-pong ball for the basketball.

Not many hedge apples were down yesterday, but it was enough for them to get a bit of a game in. Though they tweaked the game to mainly bowling the hedge apples into the south old clay pit.

When we pulled up, I was somewhat surprised to see a great blue heron flap off from the east side of the south pit. Then a belted kingfisher.

After the boys bowled all the hedge apples into the water, we circled the south pit and they did what third-graders will do: explored stuff.

That’s how you get kids outside.

Can I get an amen?

This morning had a shockingly red dawn, which seems apt considering the forecast for rain to come shortly.

When I stopped to try to capture the red predawn down the alley with the street lights still on, a rabbit bolted under the cars by the garage downtown.

The red sky was just a dominant feature of the morning. I finally stopped and took the photo at the top as we came off the extended ramble.

On the northeast corner of the south pit, a green heron gave what The Cornell Lab of Ornithology on its allaboutbirds.org calls a “skeow call.”

I like that, “skeow call,” now that is apt describing word.

Only two hedge apples were down since yesterday. I picked up one for my wife to use its magical powers.

Then we jumped the green heron again in the southwest corner of the south pit.

Storm flushed another rabbit on the old rail bed, now a trail, above the south pit. Somebody has cleared all but one downed tree, which came down in the storm earlier this month, from the trail.

Near home, Storm stalked a gray squirrel, while it obliviously chewed some fall food nugget, then chased it up one of the decorative fruit trees a street over.

An overcast covered the sky by the time we were home.

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