Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life. -John Muir
Looking back on recent posts, I became aware of how much time Rafael and I spend outdoors. Having dogs means more dirt and more responsibility, but it also means being forced to get out into the fresh air, rain or shine, heat or snow, twice a day. This has been a huge blessing, a gift, for both myself and my son.
At the beginning of spring, everything in the woods was new and fascinating for Raffi. He got excited every morning, and it was hard to drag him out of the woods. He would go on and on about the things we saw, and wanted to learn the names of bugs and plants.
Now, nearing autumn, Rafael often doesn't really want to go on our daily morning walk in the woods. He would rather visit his grandparents who live down the road, watch television, or play with cars. At least, this is what he thinks he would rather do. I push him in the stroller down the village road, the dogs' leashes in one hand, getting us to the forest as quickly as possible, while Raffi complains and makes suggestions for other things to do.
Then we finally arrive at the wide path leading into a cathedral of trees, and I set the dogs free, and let Raffi slide out of the stroller. Sometimes he'll turn back and say, "Let's go home," or "Let's go to Grandma and Grandpa." The dogs are already busy sniffing and running, and I am also hungry for the trees and wind. I search the ground, looking for something of interest.
"Look Raffi," I'll say with enthusiasm. "Look what fell down in the rain storm last night: acorns! Let's gather them for our collection. Here's more!" Other things I show him that get his attention: a puddle. A feather. A tree trunk to balance on. Slugs. Caterpillars. Mud. Wild berries. Rocks. Dragonflies. The creek. Salamanders. Sticks.
Once one of these things has his attention, he forgets about everything else, and could spend hours in the forest (as long as I have snacks, which I always do).
I wanted to share this with you in case you thought my child is a nature magnet that begs to go outside and has never watched a television series. No. I have often thought that I am lucky we have dogs who have to get outdoors every day, because this means that even if Raffi whines and says he doesn't want to go, we go, and we stay for a while, and he ends up loving it.
As years go by, and his hours spent in the woods, in the rivers, and in the fields accumulate, I know that many of his favorite memories will be made out there.
Please share one of your favorite memories of being in nature here. I just love reading them!