Thursday, February 7, 2008

A perfect afternoon

The boys and I did a couple of errands right after lunch and it was such a beautiful day--sunny and warm, in the low 70s here (I know, I know, it's rough)--I just didn't want to go home. So, I impulsively decided to visit a botantical garden I recently heard about at a nearby university. How had I missed this place! Truly an oasis in a sea of cities, highways and congestion.

With 40 acres, four miles of trails and more than 3,500 species of plants, the boys and I enjoyed traipsing through the garden and walking up the winding switch-back trails to the top of a hill overlooking the city. When we arrived at the top, Owen exclaimed, "We're almost as tall as the trees!" Then he ran back to me and flinging his arms around my bulging nine-month pregnant belly said, "Thanks, Mom!"

That certainly made my huffing and puffing to get up the hill worth it.

I LOVE that my kids enjoy the simple, beautiful and profound things of life like our afternoon spent in nature. I didn't grow up that way. I admit, I spent way too many hours indoors in front of the TV. But somehow I still loved to read and to learn, and still do. I've only been learning a love for nature as an adult.

It's funny, when I compare this idealic afternoon with an outing to Chuck E Cheese with a friend the other day, today seemed more special. The boys were just as excited, or even more so. Owen didn't run exuberantly to me to say thanks and give me a hug at Chuck E Cheese. I was certainly more relaxed and at peace today since I was not worried that they would find a game that was too mature or violent for them or worried that they would get lost in the crowd. At the botantical garden they were able to run and explore and observe and just be. The park provided a bingo sheet with pictures of plants, insects and such for young kids to find. The boys had great fun looking for things like a cactus, a bird, a spider's web, and an acorn to cross off their list.

Charlotte Mason recommends visiting one or two specific nature spots that you get to know intimately. A place that you go to in all seasons to observe the changes. I think I've found our spot.

Later, while we, or rather I, was resting on a bench in the garden where no sight or sounds remind you that you are in fact in the middle of a huge metropolis, Owen climbed on some low-lying branches of a tree. He made up a song on the spot that I just have to share:

Trees, trees, trees
Treetops are taller than we


Elizabeth Joy said...

This does sound perfect! How wonderful to have such a place nearby. I'd be there with you, with a journal and a pencil, black permanent marker and some watercolor pencils. Have you read any of the wonderful books about keeping a nature journal yet? They inspire me. I still have a lot to learn though.

Melia said...

I haven't read many books about nature journals yet. Which ones do you recommend? I would love some advice. Particularly how to implement journals with kids the age of mine. Owen is not writing or drawing yet, just scribbles. He doesn't even stay within the lines when coloring. And being such an active boy, coloring is not high on his list of things he likes to do. Any tips would be great!