She has a knack for words.
September 26, 2011

On Saturday morning, I took my daughter to the wild.

It was foggy here this weekend.  We looked out the window, at the grey mist touching everything we could see.  What would you like to do today?, I asked her.  Go hiking, she said.  So we did.

We hiked past the ant hills, marveled at the different sizes and colors of ants, at their intricate patterns of behavior.  We hiked past the rabbit dens where we once saw three kits in a tunnel dug beneath a patch of thistles.  We hiked past the coneflowers that sway and bend and rustle and whisper in the wind.

We hiked past the large rocks covered with graffiti, where the lizards push their bodies up and down in the heat.  We hiked past a thick of greens, the telltale sign of a spring creek long since dried up.  We hiked past the dead tree, listened to the nuthatches as they announced their presence to us.

John Muir once wrote that a single day’s exposure to the mountains is better than a cartload of books.  I love books, always have, but I could survive without them.  Sometimes when I stand at the top of the world, surrounded by the click of insects I cannot see, I think that I could not survive without this.

I play games with Charlotte here.  We mimic the sounds we hear, the whistles of the birds, the soft rubbing of leaf against leaf.  We pretend to move and roar as animals that live here, making believe that we are mountain lions or bumbling bees or a hungry mantis searching for prey.  We explore too - her running forward, me standing back.  She climbs the trees, lifts her body onto a branch, hugs it and scoots her body along.  I interrupt her exploration only when I think she’s in danger.  I don’t tell her to be careful.  I don’t issue warnings.  I let her learn on her own, encourage her to see the world through her eyes.  Sometimes she falls, sometimes she ends up with thorns in her toes or sap on her fingers or scrapes on her knees or bruises on her cheek.  Other times, she remembers a lesson learned before and she is proud to avoid misfortune a second time.

Hiking, I have always called it.  Or birding.  Or nature-journaling.  Or exploring.

Green hour, naturalists say as they push parents to connect their children to the outdoors.

We had a Skype date with a long-distance friend after our hike.  Hey Charlotte, she said as she waved at the camera.  What did you do today?  Did you go hiking?

Yes, Charlotte said.  Went hiking!  Saw magic going wild!

Magic going wild.  That sounds much nicer than ‘green hour’ don’t you think?


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  1. By Sarah on September 26, 2011

    that is awesome. I am trying to be more open to the kids suggestions of what we do instead of saying “no, we have schoolwork,“ or “no, mommy has to clean” you help me remember why this stuff is more important

  2. By Mom24.4evermom on September 26, 2011

    So awesome.  Sadly, I will admit, I haven’t the foggiest idea how to do this.  I would have no idea what birds are calling, our metro parks would throw you out of the park if you attempted to turn over logs, climb trees, etc.  You are allowed on the trails, and on the trails only.

  3. By on September 26, 2011

    Magic going wild.  It’s perfect-I love it.  Little brains come up with the most amazing things.

  4. By christy on September 26, 2011

    i cannot tell you how much i looooooove this post.  somedays [ok most days] i think we probably should spend MORE time inside reading books and doing puzzles, etc.  [i mean how will my kid adapt to winter??!!! he FREAKS when he’s inside! the thought of snow, which i used to love, now gives me anxiety].  but then i realize how much he is actually learning being outside all day everyday and am so thankful he loves nature.

  5. By Sarah Christensen on September 26, 2011

    Mom24 - I’m only now, after a full year of looking up birds and their calls every time we take a hike or nature walk, starting to recognize bird calls by sound.  It’s definitely a learning process!!

    Also, most of our local parks don’t really lend themselves to exploring or going off the trail.  But we have regional parks, environmental centers, wilderness sanctuaries, and habitat gardens that are great.  Farther away in the foothills there are more extensive trails.  If your area has any nature centers, I’d look into those.  They usually love to help kids turn over rocks =)  And if not, you can always start your own nature club with fellow parents and go out together a few times a month - then you can even carpool so that if a hike is exhausting you can switch drivers.

  6. By Christy@Jinxyisms on September 27, 2011

    Sarah, its awesome that you do these things with Charlotte.  I personally hate doing that kind of thing, but try to remember to take Lily to do fun outdoor things when we can.  But we’ve never gone on a hike like that.

    I need to remember to let Lily learn through doing stuff rather then telling her to be careful all the time.


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