October Nature Events for Families in Oregon (& Elsewhere)

Bonjour, les amis! Because of September's heat here in Oregon, October often feels like the true beginning of autumn. Have you enjoyed any pumpkin treats or cider yet? We're having homemade pumpkin ravioli tonight. (We haven't tried it before, but my children like stuffing wonton wrappers.) And if you're craving a seasonal drink, this past week I blended a few spoonfuls of pumpkin puree with a cup of rice milk and a dash of nutmeg, and it was surprisingly refreshing! For more ways to enjoy the season, here are some family-friendly nature events around Portland, Oregon, this month:

  Apple Cider chalkboard print by  LilyandVal  via  Etsy

Apple Cider chalkboard print by LilyandVal via Etsy

Cider Pressing: I've heard about Cedar Creek Grist Mill's one-day cider pressing event in Woodland, WA, but if we don't make it there this year, we'll either visit the Cedar Mill Cider Festival in NW Beaverton or the apple and pear tasting event at Portland Nursery. We may even make a trip to Draper Girls Farm near Hood River to pick apples and buy cider.

Salmon Spawning: Oxbow Park's annual Salmon Festival lost its funding several years ago, but on October 18th and 19th of this year (2014), the Oregon Zoo is collaborating with naturalists at Oxbow to point out salmon spawning in the Sandy River once again. They're even providing a campfire and free hot drinks (though there's a $5 admission to the park per vehicle). You'll find more details here.

  Streamwatcher by  Dolahh

Streamwatcher by Dolahh

Mushroom Hunting: For several years I've wanted to accompany older friends who know where to find good Chanterelles and Maitakes in Mt. Hood's forest, but I think my children are still too young to make the required hike. If your children are older and up for it, Oregon Metro's Big Backyard program is offering fungi-hunting hikes this month for teens and adults.

Fall Bird Migrations: Your backyard bird feeder may grow busy again as varied thrushes and juncos return. I don't expect to make it out to Sauvie Island, but Sandhill cranes reappear there this month. On that note, the Backyard Bird Shop offers two colorful reversible posters of NW birds if you'd like to help your children identify local birds. (I'm disappointed that their Clackamas shop is closing in January, but most of their feeders are on sale now.) They also offer nature walks for children over seven.

Other nature observations: Watch for Woolly bear caterpillars on the move, ladybugs burrowing under bark to hibernate, and earthworms becoming active with the rain, according to Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine by M.J. Cody and Michael Houck. The authors also mention that the conifer pollen, with its yellow tinted dust, is prevalent this month along with the autumn-colored maple and oak leaves.

  Woolly Bear Caterpillar by  Juanita Demchak

Woolly Bear Caterpillar by Juanita Demchak

Which fall events do you have on the calendar? Where does your family go for nature walks this time of year?