One day, after lunch, when the weather is grey and kind of cold, Dad says
“Let’s go looking for chestnuts.”
“Chestnuts?” I say.
“Chestnuts,” says Dad. “Do you remember them from last Christmas? We cooked them on a fire and ate them warm. They grow on trees in the forest here. Come and we’ll find them together.”
So my brothers and I all put on our boots. It will be wet, walking in the forest.
We park our car and enter the forest. It’s very quiet on the path. The earth is damp underneath our feet, and there are big brown puddles. They are silent puddles – there are no frogs or tadpoles in them anymore.
Now it is autumn, when the leaves fall from the trees. It feels like the whole world is waiting for the cold breath of winter.
I want to walk through one of the big puddles. Because I have my boots on, I can do it. I walk right through the middle of the puddle, and my feet don’t get wet at all.
But it’s not really fun, just walking through a puddle. So I kick the water and make a splash!
“Watch out! You’ll wet your socks!”
But I don’t wet my socks. That’s how good I am at kicking water with boots on!
Before I know it, Dad is calling me over. He shows me a funny bush. It has long green leaves with a crinkled edge. In the middle of some of the leaves are the chestnuts.
Dad tells me that those funny looking spiky things are just a shell for the nut, which lives inside it.
“I don’t think I would like to eat a chestnut like that!” I tell Dad. “Those balls would really spike my mouth!”
So how do you think we eat these chestnuts, if they’re wrapped in such a spiky case? Dad shows me how. He puts a chestnut on the ground and stamps on it. If you’re lucky, the case splits open, and you will see a shiny brown nut inside.
But chestnuts aren’t the only thing we see on our forest walk! There are so many things to find, if you only take the time to look.
We discover a field of dried sunflowers. Their great big heads are droopy, and they crackle when you touch them.
“That is where the sun must have been when they died,” says my little brother Tom, for they are all facing the same way.
“Look,” says Papa. “This is a field for harvesting seeds. Can you see what the inside of the flower has turned into? It is filled with sunflower seeds.”
We take some in our hands. They are not quite like the ones you buy in a shop. They are more chewy, and they have little hairs on them.
My littlest twin brothers take some of the fallen sunflowers. They turn them into swords and flagpoles and pointers and javelins. They wave them in the air, and you can see them from far away.
Tom, who loves plants and animals, says to our littlest brothers,
“No, no. Don’t take any more sunflowers. You will hurt them!”
“It’s okay,” says Dad. “They are not picking them. They have only taken ones that were on the ground.”
Next Tom sees something special. He says,
“Look! A giant snail!”
And it is a giant snail! I have never seen one so big. The little creature will not poke his head out and say hello. It is probably frightened from being in the air instead of sliding soft along the ground.
We put it back on a big brown leaf and it seems much happier. It still stays inside its house though.
We keep walking along the path… until…
We climb up a small ridge and discover a beautiful garden.
It is an orchard. It is filled with fruits, like apple trees, pear trees and mandarin trees. There are also furry bullrushes that remind me of a corn dog.
I look across the field and see a beautiful red tree that looks like a flame pointing up towards the sky. It is so beautiful that I would like to stay there forever!
But we can’t stay there forever. We put some apples and pears in our pockets along with the chestnuts, and keep walking.
Soon I hear my brother Tom laugh.
“Look!” he says. “Horses!”
They are the friendliest horses I have ever seen. At first I think it is because they like me, but then I realise that they have smelled the apples and pears in my pocket.
We give the horse an apple. He eats it very fast! That was definitely why he liked us.
We can hear the great chomping of his teeth as he mashes up the apple. All the juice from the apple spills out and makes white froth around his mouth. He really loved that apple!
Now it is time for us to go home. We have enjoyed our autumn walk through the forest, and our pockets are heavy with the treasures we found.
I have apples, pears, sunflower seeds, chestnuts, and some little stones I saw along the path.
My littlest brothers each have a sunflower head and a bullrush. But they don’t want to go home just yet. They have littler legs than us others, and so they need to rest under a tree.
“Are you ready to go?” asks Dad finally.
“Yes,” we all say. We know at home there will be hot milk in a mug waiting for us.
The sun is starting to set and it is getting cold. We will go home now.
LET’S CHAT ABOUT THE STORIES ~ IDEAS FOR TALKING WITH KIDS
1. This story tells about a time that a family went for a walk together and discovered things along the way. Can you think of a time when you spent a nice time together with your family, discovering things? Where did you go? What did you discover?
1. Nature changes with the seasons. The leaves change colour and the weather gets cooler. Can you think of some other things that change during the Autumn/ Fall?
2. How do you feel when you are walking in nature?