Monday, September 26, 2011

From Farm to Forest:Our Outdoor Journal

   Sage and I try to spend time outside everyday. Some days, we just roll the ball or push the tonka trucks around the front yard. Other days we work in the garden, pulling weeds, eating tomatoes, and watering. Some days we choose to venture beyond our home to local parks where there are slides, swings, steps, and other magical playthings for a toddler to explore. All of these activities have their own value and we have come to appreciate each unique area and the wonderful opportunities provided.

   I needed to go to Denver to run an errand, so we decided to stop at the botanical gardens. What a beautiful site! Sage ran down the pathways like a little elf, grabbing purple sage, yellow brown eyed susans, noticing the buzzing of bees, and swirling scents of catmints, basils, lavenders! The gardens are manicured, but still remain meadowlike in their presence. As we strolled from perennial pathways into the formal herb gardens, I noticed the two most sweet tiny mushrooms standing under a large spruce tree. We snuck off the path, into the wild area and snapped some shots. Lying among all the beauty of those gardens, that were hand weeded and tended to immaculately, was nature's gift perfectly tidy, simple, happy, and sure of it's place in the greater gardens. We sat and marveled at the mushrooms before moving on.

   This week we also ventured to the farm to celebrate autumn equinox. We gathered our friends and hiked around the ranch near our home, seeking out horses and pigs, listening to the baaaaing of sheep and clucking of chickens, and watching Patches the cow munch on some yummy alfalfa. The scents of the farm also stirred up a unique smell for the children. Under the oak tree, we made wind wands, and admired at the fairy sized creek that emerged from a giant tuft of grass. Sage had to take his shoes off and wade around. A red dragonfly darted around, landing on the rock, we studied his transluscent wings and he let Sage touch him.The sun was warm and inviting, and left us wondering if summer was ready to part. The spirit of this day was cheery, uplifting, wholesome. I think these are words we often use to associate with family and small organic farms. Ideallic for sure.

This morning, the sky was grey and a shadow of fog lingered. We decided to head to a nature area close to home. We arrived to the sounds of the running creek, full of life and to autumnal hues caressing the forest. The oaks, mountain mahogany, and current bushes that surrounded the creek were changing colors and creating a crunchy sound where some of the leaves had fallen already. Birds still sang and we watched them for a while- darting back and forth, teasing the squirrels, gathering seeds. Sage likes to watch things for a while and does not easily get deterred which I appreciate in him. He likes to watch the stream move along, listening to it's song. He ran back and forth, across the wooden bridge, inhaling fall's fresh moist air, giggling, and bending over the side as if ready to bolt in. I spotted him of course, but he probably would have liked to go in the water.

  So many experiences can occur outdoors that do not happen in the same way inside. The smells and scents of unique places, the feel of the changing temperature and breeze moving across your face. The sounds of animals and bugs, water, wind, woodpeckers- you name it. There is something about being alive in an area that is full of life. Relationships are all around. This is what sets apart outdoor environments from indoor ones. There is a zestful beauty that being outside offers to children and adults alike. It is easy to understand the world of nature when you are immersed inside of it, easy to remember that we too are nature. I appreciate our outdoor moments so much and am grateful these places are all around us and I always look forward to tomorrow's outdoor time as well. Every child deserves to be outside and to  hopefully to find a special place in their heart for mother nature.

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