Ages ago I picked up a book from the Goodwill Bookstore and while I've yet to finish it, there are a number of things from Last Child in the Woods that still stick with me. As part of Juni's home education, I am making a serious effort to use the outdoors as her classroom just as much as the indoors.
I recently read a post over at Richard Louv's blog, the post titled "You're part of the new nature movement if..." A few things on the list really spoke to me and the community citizen, mother, and home educator I want to be.
"You hunger for authenticity; you believe in nature’s power to create a deeper sense of personal and regional identity."
"You want to reignite all your senses."
"You’re a nature-smart teacher who takes your students outside because you understand the power of nature to help them learn."
"You care about the human relationship with nature."
"You’re done with despair; you want to create a newer world."
This last one is big for me. I really need to abandon despair for the state of our natural world and realize that I have the power to do something about it. Even if that "something" is simply raising my child to appreciate, respect and take joy in her surroundings.
Juni played the entire time with nothing but a bucket, shovel and stick found on the trail. Apparently all a 4 year old girl needs to have a solid 3 hours of fun. There was a babbling brooke near where we were playing at the creek but when you walked a few yards away from it, you could hear the wind blowing in the trees. It just feels so good to get away and truly enjoy the spoils of nature, with no need to be anywhere but here and present.
We also brought along our rescued pup, Zsazy ("Zah-Zee") to join in on the outdoor adventure.
Watching your pup enjoy herself is just as rewarding as watching a little person wallow in pure joy. Zsazy sprinted up and down the creek, hopped logs, trampled through the surrounding woods, and nipped at bees and other bugs flying overhead.
It was nice having our spunky li'l pup there as a sidekick.
There are a number of spots along this nature trail that meet with the creek so after playing on the south end for some time, we hiked a few yards to the boardwalk that looks over a more northern portion.
Juni, of course, was most content under the boardwalk, plodding through the water and digging up the muddy bank.
We had planned on hiking all the way to the north part of the creek where there were springs and tiny waterfalls but we were all rather spent and grumbling bellies reminded us that a picnic lunch was waiting.
As a random side note, I cannot have enough woven straw baskets.
This one I picked up thrifting and I replaced the old straps with some new canvas ones. It has quickly become my new favorite go-to bag, second only to my large Bolga market basket. On this day, I used it to tote our lunch of sandwiches, fresh avocado, and apples. At the entrance of the park, there is a large open field that the creek cuts through. It was a perfect spot for the three of us to rest and replenish.
I snapped this picture of a very tired child while I was laying down on our blanket, looking about at that little pout. A true sign that enough sun was had for the day.
I look forward to picking Last Child in the Woods back up and using it to help guide me in my homeschooling journey. Activities such as these really help both Juni and I become more grounded with our surroundings and ourselves. It's amazing all the the resources we have in our communities that are free for the taking. The lessons learned in this outdoor classroom are price and timeless.