As we get closer to our departure date, I am becoming increasingly excited for the time I will have with my kids in the natural world. The boat is small, but the air will be warm and the beaches are vast. I have always needed to spend time in the outdoors. This need has become even more pronounced with children in my daily life.
With children though, the quality and focus of time spend outdoors has shifted a bit. I no longer try to see how far I can make it on a trail. I cannot be attached to preparing a garden bed AND getting it planted in the same morning. Instead, I have learned acceptance. I have been given an opportunity to learn how to be more present and aware in the here and now. As we walk in the woods, we stop to play hide and seek, finding special spots to be still and quiet. We marvel at millipeds and search endlessly for owls. In the rivers, we look at rocks and fill our pockets with treasures. In the garden, we search for worms and beetles. We take frequent snacks on garlic chives and kale, all the while singing songs and listening to birds.
Aldo Leopold said that “when we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Perhaps to build this sense of community with nature, we must start by thinking like children. How rich we may become, if we can all spend time each day outside, thinking like a kid, and experiencing the beauty of the present moment.
How do you put your kid hat on? How do you develop and foster a connection with the natural world? We love comments.
Last May we were visiting my brother and his family in Georgia. My sister-in-law asked us to talk with my nieces and nephew about our upcoming sailing trip. Specifically, she wanted us to talk about the sacrifices we had to make to fulfill this dream. At the time, I struggled to come up with something. Sure, I saved all of my earnings from Little Birdies Childcare for five years, and there must have been things we could have purchased with that money. In all honesty though, this never felt like a sacrifice. I’m not really much of a shopper, and buying most things in this modern consumer society usually has a price tag of guilt associated with it for me. So what have I sacrificed?
This past fall, I had a bitter voice in my head reminding me that I had not gone for my annual solo hike on Baker. It was a beautiful autumn season here in Bellingham. Every time I saw Mount Baker rise up in a blue sky, I just knew I was missing out. I tried reasoning with myself. It was not as if we spent the whole summer working. Well, at least the girls and I did not spend the whole summer working. Joey pretty much did. My part in that was taking the girls, so that he could get the work done. The girls and I had fun entertaining our many visitors, and we swam and rode bikes a lot. I also had some great moments to myself- runs on Galbraith, swimming at the park, and dancing in the late night. Somehow though, I was still longing for a whole day of wilderness and solitude. Luckily, snow came early this year and we got some family time up on Baker. It wasn’t solitude, but being in such snowy mountain beauty eased my soul. I was finally able to let go of my regret, kind of.
Tomorrow I head out for a solo journey to check out this boat. I’m excited to travel by myself, to see good friends, and mostly for the potential of it all. It will be quick and exhausting, but I am okay with that. My only problem now is figuring out when to go skiing again. After all, I’m thinking I’m not really one to make too many sacrifices.
Pearl and June, December 2010