Friday, September 6, 2013

Wondering Why?

The beauty and wonder of nature:
Two things I'd love for my kids to love

I've had a couple of friends ask me lately, why I spend so much time taking hikes and doing outdoorsy stuff with my kids. Another likened me to his "crazy old aunt". I took that as a compliment, but it also got me thinking. How can I explain it?

Before I go any further, I need to confess that I grew up as a girl who longed to be a Boy Scout like her male cousins. Stories like The Hobbit, The Call of the Wild and Robinson Crusoe, and shows like The Swiss Family Robinson, fired my imagination. Camping, hiking, fishing, boating, etc. have always been part of my life. Best of all, I loved helping my dad make campfires, and they've always had a peaceful effect on me. I went on my first no parents camping trip after my high school prom, and have been backpacking and car camping ever since. Heck, Steve and I even camped on our honeymoon. Simply put, it's part of who I am, and the older I get, the more important it becomes to me.

As a mom, I've always got disaster and emergency preparedness in the back of my mind, and there are skills that I feel we need to know, but it's more than that. I want my kids to feel connected to nature. I want them to understand it, appreciate it, take care of it, and be able to handle themselves in it. More than that, I want it to be important to them.

There's a simplicity in being out there that I want for them. In our daily lives, we're surrounded by gobs and gobs of stuff. It feels sometimes like we could easily spend all of our time either using said stuff, or making money to buy more of it. At it's worst, life is fast paced and very electronic. At least four of us in this family could spend entire day in front of a computer and not even notice the time passing. I used to have to drag Jonas into the house, he loved playing outside so much, but now that he's discovered video games, it's the exact opposite a lot of the time. Once he's out there, he absolutely loves it, but getting him there has become more of a chore than I'm happy about.

I don't want that for us. I want us outside in the fresh air, hiking the trails, learning about the plants and animals around us, cooking over fire, catching fireflies, and sleeping on the ground (ok, my hip and shoulder disagree with this one) and under the stars, gaining ever more confidence in ourselves and each other as we do. Most importantly, I want us out there being together, without all those distractions that are always calling to us from inside the house. It's amazing the things I learn about them when we're doing something as simple as taking a walk. Our tongues relax as our bodies do, and the listening comes easier. The insights are pretty incredible sometimes.

My goal is that, ideally, we'll spend time together outside every day, even if it's just a walk around the neighbourhood. It's good for our bodies, our minds, our souls and our relationships. I want my kids to explore the world around them, and let their imaginations and their bodies run wild. Don't get me wrong, I know that there are going to be days that it just doesn't happen. There are just so many things to do every day, between school, work, keeping house, etc... sometimes it's just hard to make the time. What we can do though is to make it one of our top priorities, and not let less important things push it aside. Most of the time, it's not going to be big family excursion. Most of the time, it's going to mean reading in the backyard, or having dinner in the forest out back, or something equally as urban. We're doing though, and we're going to keep doing it. That's the plan anyway.



  1. Why did the pioneers have such small homes? Because they didn't live in them. They lived in the world. Hold on to the pioneer within.

  2. YES! Exactly!! I told my son the other day that we don't need to sit in a chair and pretend to do things in an imaginary world, we can go out and do real things in the real world. Fresh air, exercise, growing self-sufficiency, understanding our interdependence with nature, boundless opportunity for imagination... there is just so much goodness in nature. There are days when Mother Nature seems to recommend that we stay inside, and I'm all for having a comfortable indoor living environment, but most of the time she's just waiting for us to come outside and join her.