Nature, kids, time … that is the theme of this column each month when it is time to share my thoughts with you. In the past I have encouraged us all to take the time to be in nature — go to the river, walk in the woods, enjoy the snow, embrace the beauty all around us. And, to be clear, as we move into the warm months, I still encourage exploration into the amazing natural world of our river valleys! Between now and the next time I share with you we will dance through the summer months with all the glory they offer.
Having said that, this month I want to take another tack. Nature is all around us in smaller, quieter ways. Sometimes all it takes is walking to the mailbox with a different mentality. Opening our senses to the natural world can be extremely powerful. Breathe through your nose and smell the damp earth, blooming trees, or even the “fertilizer” being applied to the fields on the edge of town; listen to the sounds of the wind and the birds singing; if you are so inclined, feel the earth beneath your bare feet (I do!). Stepping outside the door changes everything. Your heart rate goes down, your breathing deepens. All without scheduling or taking time away from all the things you are busy doing. And, if you can take a few extra minutes to examine the environment right there it can be magical. Even now, as I look out my window, I notice a Red Admiral butterfly on the windowsill. Taking a moment to watch it rest brings me peace, and the joyful knowledge that spring is here!
I am fortunate to spend some of my days with a 2-year-old, and it is often through her eyes that I am reminded of all the wonder available in front of my house! After a rain we find worms drying out on the sidewalk, in the grass there are ants scurrying to and fro, dandelions brighten the landscape with their shining faces, and the beautiful purple blossoms of Creeping Charlie seem to sprout everywhere! The squirrels and rabbits are prolific in Spring Green and always elicit great enthusiasm and, seen through her eyes, often a giggle. She hasn’t yet learned to scorn “weeds,” or to find squirrels and rabbits to be pests who might nibble on a chosen plant. Instead, she sees beauty and life and joy. And she shares that with me. It is a true gift.
The perennial garden I am slowly planting in place of a swampy, shady part of our front yard is coming to life, showing plants that have taken hold after their beginnings last year. Coming in from school a couple of days ago, my 16-year-old asked where the plants had come from. Their perennial nature was cool, even for him. It was a reminder that even when we don’t see growth, when lovingly tended, it is often waiting for just the right conditions to burst forth in beauty and strength. Perhaps that can be said of us humans as well …
I hope that your summer is full of just the right conditions and that you are able to fully embrace them.
Jennifer Moore-Kerr is a mom, a free spirit and a barefoot dancer living in Spring Green where she can walk to the river and commune with friends. In her spare time she leads discussions on meaningful topics in order to foster better civic, civil dialogue in the River Valley. She is delighted to share her thoughts on kids, time and nature on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on creativity, education and kids.