What an era to write about time, nature and kids! It would seem that all the world has come together to focus on these three elements about which I am lucky enough to write regularly for you. Memes are floating around suggesting that in 2020 March had 300 days, and April five years … and it does seem that way to this writer.
Some of you have experienced loss, some fear, some extreme overwork, and some total lack of work. And through all that, time seems to have shifted, grown and become amorphous.
Whether you miss your previous schedule, or find yourself embracing a new found temporal freedom, these past months have opened a whole new way of experiencing and thinking about time. It turns out time is a construct. One we can, and I argue, should, examine more carefully. When we slow down the world becomes clearer (both in the skies, and in our minds and hearts).
One of the places where I have found clarity is my literal backyard. If you’ve read this column before, you have heard me talk about the amazing natural resources in our river valley. But for now I encourage you to step outside your back door. And sit. And experience with all of your senses. Listen to the variety of bird songs. Explore the shapes and shades of the incredible variety of plants, even those you think of as weeds. Smell the fresh, clean air and feel it on your skin (including your bare feet, of course!). Having the time to truly savor these experiences has been a hidden blessing during these challenging times.
And then, without stores and movies open, or events happening, our public natural spaces have become the heart of our entertainment. So many people were flocking to the state parks that they were forced to briefly close in the name of safety. What a salve to this writer’s spirit it has been to see so many of you turning to those natural spaces for all that they can give you. Yes! We humans do know what is good for us. We do yearn for open natural spaces. We do know that in those spaces we are reminded of our place on Earth, and we know where to find peace and beauty even in the hardest times.
And then there is the issue of each other. We are having to find new ways to connect with each other. Children are learning to school in new ways, while teachers and parents learn new ways to teach and parent. And, when we let them, the children are leading the way. They are creating projects, they are learning to be in their families, they are connecting with their siblings. I commend the families that are using this time to build those connections. It has been hard. The screens are powerful, and now, even more necessary; but I believe that, in the end, our children will have learned some amazing skills about slowing down, embracing our world, and loving each other. And maybe we will, too. I wish you peace and good health in these hard times.
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 time, on being human, and on being in nature on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on creativity, education and kids.