Healthy Child Healthy World: Nature Adventures.
August 14, 2012

Healthy Child Healthy World blogging prompt: What sort of nature adventures do we love best?

“Do you hear that?” I ask my daughter.  We stand still and silent on the trail.  She nods exuberantly.

“What sort of animal makes that sound, do you think?”

She considers this.  Cocks her head to the left, squeezes her eyes shut, ponders the chirping in the tree above us.

“It’s a bird,” she says finally, definitively.

“What type of bird?  What type of beak do you think that bird has?”

Climbing a tree in her “circus dress.“  I asked if she needed help and she said “It is JUST A TREE, MOMMA!  Little girls do not need help climbing trees!  That’s just silly.“

“Well it’s NOT A HAWK,” she responds with her hands splayed out in front of her to emphasize her point.

A few weeks ago, a hawk began to spend large chunks of the day in our pecan tree where it keeps an eye on the wild rabbits that nest in the bushes beneath.  Twice we have heard it shriek and watched as another hawk glided to a perch on the branch beside it.  Several times we have seen it sitting on a nearby telephone pole tearing apart prey.

“No,” I say.  “It’s not a hawk.  It sounds like a much smaller bird to me, what do you think?”

She nods.  And so it goes.  Back and forth we volley.  I ask her to close her eyes and listen with her deer ears.  Where is the bird located?  How many other birds does she hear?  What type of food does she think the bird might eat?  How does she think it drinks?  I ask her to mimic the sound.  What sort of sound is it?  Has she ever heard this bird before?  What does she think the bird is trying to communicate?

After a few minutes, we leave the bird behind us.  We walk down the path and we do not emerge from the arroyo for several hours.

The next morning, Charlotte asks to ride her scooter.  We pour outside, our hair still tangled from sleep, determined to enjoy the neighborhood before the heat of the day.  I snap on her helmet, tie her shoelaces, and off we go.  We see one of our neighbors along the road.

“Hey Charlotte,” the neighbor greets my daughter.  “What’s new, kiddo?”

My daughter pauses, torn between her two great loves: talking and scootering.  She picks talking.

“Yesterday,” she says taking a deep breath, “I went to the arroyo AND! Momma came too AND! I listened to a bird AND! it was NOT A HAWK, but maybe a smaller bird, AND! it was saying HELP! HELP! THERE’S A BIG KID NEAR MY NEST!”

She pauses for a moment to take another breath.  “AND! that big kid was me AND! I told Momma we better leave.  Yeah.  So that the bird could stop crying WAH WAH like a baby.  It made a sound like THIS!”

She starts chirping, squints up her eyes, twists her lips in an unfamiliar position.  Then, just as suddenly as the conversation has started, it is over.  Charlotte hops on her scooter again and she is off.

“Sorry,” I apologize to the neighbor as I trot after my child.

“No, no, don’t be,” the neighbor says.  “It sounds like she’s busy having another wild adventure.  Ain’t nothing wrong with that!”

It is these small and ordinary and uneventful nature adventures that we love best.  Listening to a bird, imagining its life, learning about our world from the sounds and smells around us, sharing our story with friends.

Ain’t nothing wrong with that, indeed.

What about you?  What sort of nature adventures do you enjoy most?  Do your kids have nature adventures they prefer?

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  1. By on August 14, 2012

    i like going to my parents farm. They have sheep, a donkey, a horse and some cows. It is so peaceful there

  2. By Clare on August 15, 2012

    I love her stories.  This is a treasure that you and she will have when older… a memory of all the little things you could forget. 

    Although, my main question is, how do you get her to stay still long enough to listen in the first place. :)

  3. By Sarah Christensen on August 15, 2012

    I have to give her time to run off some energy before she’ll calm enough to do something like listen =)  But also, we have some routines in place that help out.  For example, we have visualizations that we do together where I tell her a story to try to “make a picture in her mind” about an animal or a day with certain weather or a plant, etc.  Or we tell a story together, usually a from a southwestern tribe or something from the “keepers of” series (bruchac, caduto), etc.  Anyway, these sorts of storytimes are one-off events but Charlotte is accustomed to the routine - I gather her to me, I tell her the visualization or story, and then we take a moment to use our senses together or talk about what we see around us, etc.  I can only get maybe two minutes of sit-spot time from her, though or silence and stillness unless it’s framed as a game =P

  4. By on August 15, 2012

    We spend a good bit of time at a park connected to our neighborhood. There’s a creek that we walk through, stepping from rock to rock, and walk along trails. It’s probably our favorite outdoor place… And semi-sentimental as I used to go there when I was a child.

    The other night Jude insisted we stop there before meeting friends for dinner to find the perfect slingshot stick.





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