Tunisian Nature Walk

Since we don’t have a yard at our little beach bungalow, Tony and I decided to re-institute the classic Charlotte Mason practice of nature walks. I take the children out for an hour every morning, and we look for “nature.” Somehow, we always find it. And a few days ago, I took the camera out to document.

Our first step was our favorite anthill. Yes, we have a favorite anthill. Dominique spends at least fifteen minutes watching it every time we walk down our dirt road. Tunisia is quite a haven for ants. There are the tiny black “normal” ants we are used to, along with a couple of similar species in larger sizes. Then there are the medium-sized ants with the red heads, who like to live in trees. So far, although the children love climbing trees, they have not been bitten. The strangest ants to me are a tall, skinny red kind, with abnormally long legs. They don’t just walk along like regular ants. They are always darting and parrying. I’ve never seen them actually attacking something, but I’m sure they must be some kind of martial ant. But our favorite ants are the truly gigantic black ones in the picture. Every day, we see them bringing up little round dirt balls in their jaws, enlarging their underground home. read more

Diary of a Neo-Edwardian Lady

We were at Lough (Lake) Ennell yesterday, and it was beautiful. It barely rained on us at all. And, I discovered the macro button on our camera (actually, Tony showed it to me). What joy and delight! I snuck up on every bug in sight, not to mention dozens of very obliging flowers. Maybe I really could do a nature journal. I’ve been stuck on that point for some time, as my repertoire of feminine accomplishments does not include brush drawing. I was just about to capture a slug when the camera battery finally died. From above, the slug looked as sedentary and blobby as slugs are wont to look. But from below! He was ravenously devouring a leaf. His prodigious lips engulfed it alarmingly. Raj and I had been watching him for five minutes when Axa came over to investigate. I pointed out his sharp tooth, of which I had caught several glimpses. In fact, we could even hear the little snip as he cut off each piece of leaf. Axa said, “I read in a book that slugs cut leaves with their sharp tongue.” She’s right, of course. She knows all sorts of things like that. I looked it up when I got home. The tongue of a slug is called a radula, and it’s covered in tiny teeth. read more