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Cattail, typha latifolia
Story:
In August 2000 the kids and I took a ride to meet my mother who was doing a ride from Seattle to Vancouver (RSVP). We had been told that her ride was going to be on a specific road, so the kids and I headed in that direction. We began traveling up the road that we were told that she would be traveling on. We weren't quite sure how far we would go before we started being passed by the high-speed riders doing a century ride vs. us the casual riders. As the day progressed we had traveled quite far away from home and still had seen no sightings of any of the group that she was riding with. I began to wonder what had happened. We chose to not continue going further away from home, but rather to stop and wait for the other riders. So alongside the busy highway the kids and I waited... and waited...and waited. We stayed for about two hours before finally returning back home. During the time we were there the kids became very creative with what was present to discover and play with. The kids found some treasures in the dirt alongside of the highway. Those didn't keep their interests very well for long though. The thing that finally kept them entertained for most of the wait was ... the ... CATTAILS!

The kids were so funny!
They discovered that the cattails were growing in MUD! In the middle of a dry summer... they had found one rare place that still had MUD! The kids got quite muddy, or at least on their shoes. They soon created games to play either in, or with the cattails. They trampled down the cattails and did games of hide and seek while at other times the cattails were broken off and compared for length. At other times the long stems were broken off and used for imaginary swords and the sword fights began. We came home that day with a whole new concept of how tall cattails are, how the seed parts feel, and the kind of soil that they grow in. Our packs were partially filled with samples of the goods to further examine at home. 

Once at home the kids measured their cattails. My son, Jason, had found one that measured 21 inches long, which was nearly double the length of the other ones nearby. He was very proud of the size he had found while he was out on a bike ride. (He later learned that they don't store indefinately, because they dry out and... expand... causing the tiny seeds to flutter everywhere!)

Now when we see cattails I don't hear,"Mom can we stop, I just want to feel one, they look so soft!". I can see learning occurring through this event, how about you?

We later learned that we were on the wrong road to meet the group with that ride. We never did see my mom and the kids were very disappointed. This year we were able to see a map and meet in route with much more sucess!

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