Lauren Rogan, 7, wandered along the edge of Lodi Lake, clipboard, notebook and pencil in hand. She squinted as she studied the squawking geese to her left, the oak trees to her right and the hundreds of leaves she crunched under her feet.
Rogan, her twin sister Claire Rogan, and four other girls from Lodi, Stockton and Elk Grove gathered Saturday morning with renowned nature artist Rene Reyes to trek through the Lodi Lake Nature Area to examine and sketch everything from blackberry briars to red-chested hawks.
"I am prepared to see everything," Claire Rogan said. "I have my binoculars and I am bringing a book with pictures of birds so I can identify them."
Each girl was given a sketch pad and a pencil and told to find what Reyes called "treasures" that they would then observe and talk about.
What did something feel like? Did the blades of grass have sharp edges?
What did a garden spider look like or what color was it?
Or maybe, what did an oak leaf smell like?
These were just some of the questions that were asked and answered throughout the group's hour-long walk through a section of the lake's nature area.
Each item the group found would be sketched and noted on a map they created as they walked along.
At the end of the walk, the group would have a nature treasure map, Reyes said.
Squeals of delight could be heard as each girl found something they thought could be a treasure, be it a garden of flowers that were as tall as some of the girls or a dried-up oak gall that was once used to house wasp eggs.
Ella Reyes, one of Reyes daughters who was participating in the event, found a grape vine that seemed to coil itself around the branches of a live oak tree and practically mold itself into the bark.
Each girl had to say one thing they noticed about the branch before they sat down to sketch it on their maps.
They tugged on the branch to see how it intertwined with the tree.
Some got so close to see the various lines and breaks in the vine that their noses lightly grazed it.
"This is not about art, it is about seeing how well your eyes work and how you can capture things in nature," said event organizer Kathy Grant. "See the world around you, really look at what is in front of you."
At the end of the walk, Claire and Lauren Rogan wandered over under a tree near the Discovery Center at Lodi Lake.
They sat down together, comparing their notes and maps.
"Oh, I like your veins," Lauren Rogan said to her sister, Claire, as she looked over a sketching of a leaf.
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.