Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Side of the Mountain

We have discovered some wonderful books by Jean Craighead George. My Side of the Mountain is the first in a series of books about Sam Gribley, a boy who leaves home to live alone in the woods, and the peregrine falcon, Frightful, that he raises. The next two books are On the Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful's Mountain. I found them in the tween section of our public library. There are also two wonderful children's books that continued the series, Frightful's Daughter and Frightful's Daughter Meets the Baron Weasel. These children's books have beautiful illustrations by Daniel San Souci. I have really loved reading these books to Orion. There are so many interesting details about nature and survival that the stories were interesting to us both.

These stories about Sam and Frightful have led Orion to some imaginative play. Sometimes he would be Sam, I would be Frightful, Jules would be my eyas (falcon chick), and Isaac would be Bando (Sam's friend). My hamper would get placed on its side and become the tree house. Even Orion's stuffed animals would become characters from the book. We would eat acorn pancakes and turtle soup or go fishing.

Isaac and Orion playing Falcon-Dove

We also started playing a game we call Falcon-Dove. Orion would insist on being the falcon and Isaac or I would be the dove. We would run in circles around the living room, the dove saying coo-coo and the falcon in pursuit saying kotchi-kotchi. Sometimes A third would join in as an owl and chase the falcon saying hoo-hoo.


These games typically ended with Orion on the floor being tickled.

Our Eyas

Then one day we noticed in our yard at the base of a tree an eyas. Orion was so excited. (I always wanted my own eyas!)

Other eyas

There was another seemingly younger eyas in the nest overhead squawking. The one on the ground was silent and very sad looking. The wildlife people we called said to leave it alone and call them in a few days if it was still there. The next day the eyas was still there, but dead. We were very sad. We continued to notice the other smaller eyas in the nest and saw the parent as well in the next few weeks. Now however they seem to be gone I guess well never know what happened to the little one. I researched birds of prey in Oklahoma and have decided that these birds were likely Cooper's hawks. They are common in Oklahoma and live in wooded areas in nests up in trees. Sometimes they will nest in the same location over and over, so perhaps there will be eyases here again next year.

Once we finished the Sam-Frightful series we went on to read Tree Castle Island, also by George. Now Orion would imagine he was Jack and I was his dog Dizzy. He would walk around with a machette (a kid's toy plastic kitchen knife) and hunt for bears. He started cooking resin in his play kitchen. Mostly, though, he trimmed many imaginary trees and bushes with his machette. One day we were sitting on the back porch and he pointed to a tree and told me that is where he would like to build his home. It was near enough that he would still be able to come visit me.

Now we are reading George's Julie of the Wolves. It's about an Eskimo girl who lives with wolves. We'll see what kind of imaginative play he comes up with next.