We live in a major metropolitan area – crazy traffic, bustle bustle all about, dense living, lots of sounds (noise!) and activity…it’s amazing, and at times, bewildering.  But – while this happens all about us, we are also surrounded by incredible mountains and foothills, awesome trails and parks, streams and the ocean, and fabulous bike trails the wend along our soon to be “set free” river. Los Angeles is a true “melting pot” – an incredibly “Amercian” city in its breadth and scope and diversity, and the way in which we must all make room for one another.

I think this is the image that many “see” in their minds when they think of Los Angeles: a smoggy, “star” lit city (no, I don’t mean the ones in the sky:)) that is dominated by whackos, wealthy movie moguls and “Yo-dude” surfers that are blonde, blue-eyed, and dumb :).  Some of this might be true, but really…Los Angeles is simply an AMAZING place to live, to raise a family, and to explore the richness of the natural world.

Example: my kids are currently involved in an Ancient Skills Class, taught by a fellow named Chris Morasky, who spent more than a decade living with and learning about the natural world, through various Native American Tribes.  He now runs classes for both kids, and adults, who wish to deepen their appreciation, and knowledge of, the natural world.  Our kids have only experienced one class so far, but already they have learned some really cool stuff:

scented beauty!
scented beauty!

Did you know that a Eucalyptus Tree can be a source of…sugar?  Not “true” sugar, but at certain times of the year (around now, beginning of Autumn), on the underside of the leaves, you will see small white bumps that are called “Lurps” (sounds like they were named by Dr. Suess!…which, by the way, is the German word (suess) for sugar!) Lurps aren’t crazy sweet, but they do have a hint of sweet to them.  Take a walk around some Eucalyptus near you and flip a leaf over…look for the white bumps (the older ones turn brown or black – they won’t hurt you though, just don’t taste as sweet) and try a Lurp!

lovely cottonwood
lovely cottonwood

Cool #2: Cottonwood Trees and…toothpaste?  Yep – there is a direct correlation!  Many people on the planet do not use a toothbrush and toothpaste, but instead use the tender branch stem of a Cottonwood Tree. Cool huh:)  We got to try this as we moved along the trail – this tree pictured above lent us a small, tender branch which Chris cut into 1 inch pieces or so…ideally you would pound the tip of the branch piece between two rocks to soften the tip of the branch – we simply peeled the bark back a bit and chewed on it between our back teeth for a few minutes until it softened.  And then, brush your teeth with it!  Cottonwood contains Propolis, an ingredient found in toothpaste which acts as a natural deterrent against bacteria.  SWEET.

zip zip zip!
zip zip zip!

Last Super Cool Thing:

Some decades back, a scientist from JPL, (JPL – Jet Propulsion Laboratory…as in the place that is responsible for all current Mars exploration!…JPL is very close to this amazing park we were exploring last week), was walking along the same trails we were on, and stumbled upon this plant, a Burdock Plant.  The burrs of this plant are incredibly sticky, and yet…they “zip” together, and “unzip” amazingly easy, without any damage to the burrs.  This plant, these burrs, became the inspiration for….Velcro!  A wicked awesome invention discovered here, in our backyard:)

Get outside! Keep your eyes open, your mind unlocked, and your inspiration ready!  You might just discover the next “big” thing…and, you might just have a ridiculous amount of fun. Love Your Nature! (pun intended!)

One thought on “Connecting…”

  1. I loved this post! How fun to learn through your experience. The experience of nature, even in the midst of an urban place, is one of the things I truly love about Chicago.

    Thanks for this post.

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