Take a Child Outside Week – Pawpaw Hunting and Sagan’s First Hike
Saturday was the first day of Take a Child Outside Week! It was also National Public Lands Day. And in case we needed another reason to get out, late September – October is also pawpaw fruiting season.
George Washington was quite a fan of Asimina triloba, North America’s largest indigenous fruit. He declared “chilled pawpaw” to be his favorite dessert. Although I rather enjoy the taste, I wouldn’t quite go that far. It would be hard to top crème brûlée!
Ryan and I have been growing some pawpaw seedlings for a couple of years now. It’ll be a while before those trees fruit, so we thought we would see if we could locate some more established trees near our new home. During National Walk in the Woods Day I took a shot of a small pawpaw tree near a creek at Fountainhead Regional Park. Figuring where there is a small tree, they may be bigger ones, we decided to retrace our steps and see what we can find.
We brought little Sagan along, fulfilling the requirement of taking a child outside. This journey would be Sagan’s very first hike! He pretty much slept through the entire thing.
Sagan’s First Hike (Photo by Ryan Somma)
Had Sagan been awake (and had fully developed vision), he would have seen a squirrel, a daddy long-legs, a crayfish nest and a heron flying overhead.
Flora – Pawpaws
It didn’t take us long to get to the creek. We saw plenty of small trees without fruit. It didn’t look too promising until a small grove near the creek shoreline caught my eye. Upon closer examination, we found fruit laying on the ground!
Vicky and Sagan with Discovered Fruit (Photo by Ryan Somma)
Then we looked up and saw examples of pawpaw fruit still in the trees.
The non-bug infested fruit wasn’t quite ripe yet, but we still got the thrill of the hunt. It was also nice to establish that the favorite dessert of our nation’s first President was still alive in well in Northern Virginia!
Flora – Fungi
Between Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and various other storms, this area has had more than its fair share of rain. It may have had its miserable moments at the time, but on Saturday we sure profited from the extra moisture. The trail has what Ryan deemed a “mushroom explosion”. We had plenty of neat fungi to marvel at while we walked.
Sagan’s first outing was definitely a brief one. I doubt we even traveled a mile round trip. But I find myself very satisfied with everything we saw in that short journey.