After a small breakfast together, my husband got ready for work, and I curled up on the couch with the dogs and my laptop, and checked my emails. One of them was the newsletter from Shelburne Farms, an inn and working farm on 1400 acres in Vermont. I've never been there, but I daydream about it often...visiting in the fall, when the leaves are turning on misty hiking trails and there are autumn delicacies on their seasonal menu. I love reading the latest news....they write about the new baby farm animals that have been born, cheese making, restoring the roads and trails after winter, and about the cook who is using rhubarb and asparagus grown on the farm in his spring menu.
Today's newsletter mentioned that they would be holding a screening of a film called Mother Nature's Child, which is a documentary about the deep importance of exposing children to nature. As I watched the trailer, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Here I am, living in a small town, surrounded by fields, forests, and creeks, ribboned together by the four seasons....and I can share all of this with my little son!
I began thinking about my childhood, spent wandering the tide pools, beaches, and cliffs of Bolinas in Northern California. About how all of my free time was spent outside. I remembered making (and eating) mud pies in the drive way of our home, going mushroom hunting under low pines with my father, picking blackberries from wild tangled hedges that lined the dirt roads, and how the loudest sounds were made by waves and birds. Surely, although I was unaware of the significance at the time, these experiences helped form my love for nature. No matter what hardships were going on at home, I could escape to the great outdoors, and that is not something all children have.
I thought about my adoration of the nature here. The way living with the seasons has won my heart. How I can't imagine living without them anymore. I thought about the many beautiful things I have seen. So many countless discoveries, so many moments of sheer joy, just being in the fresh air, alone with the trees and birds and my dogs, finding nests and caterpillars, frog eggs and butterflies. I cannot wait to share these things with my son, and will be forever grateful that I can.
I promised myself I would not let fear of ticks and germs get in the way of my child's nature romps. Bug spray, sunscreen, and out we go!
What role has nature played in your life? In your children's lives? Does fear of kidnappers keep you from letting your kid go out to build dams, fly kites, catch bugs, and float newspaper boats for entire afternoons? I think about that and am angry that some devious people have spoiled the carefree experience children should be having out in nature. I want my children to be able to gather buckets of berries without being afraid of strange men in bushes (or better said, without me being afraid). There are so many activities I am looking forward to sharing with my kids in nature, but I also know that there is something magical about being out on your own, just the children, exploring, jumping from high places a mother would never let you jump from, talking nonsense and throwing rocks, sliding down ravines on sheets of cardboard and daring each other to eat bugs and worms.
I really hope my children will be lucky enough to experience all of that and more, safely and happily.
xoxo country girl