Thursday, November 17, 2011

A successful nature discovery venture.

The following is a small excerpt from an article by Sharon Dequar about discovering nature with children...

"When was the last time you took your family walking in the rain, wading in the stream-like gutters? When wind whips through the night or when fog lies so thick and low that streetlights become pale glowing orbs, do you venture out, all of you holding hands, without a flashlight? Have you simply slept under the stars in your own backyard?

Think of the attitudes parents convey to children in such experiences, not necessarily attitudes about thunderstorms or snakes, but about life and the joy of living! Spiritual experiences can’t be staged, but one fruitful avenue that involves our children and ourselves in inspiring experiences is to explore—fully and enthusiastically—God’s creations. In the course of growing up we tend to acquire a worldly sophistication that dampens this enthusiastic sense of wonder about nearly everything. Cultivating wonder about nature heightens our appreciation of all creation and begins to break down our artificial distinction between things temporal and spiritual.

The parent asks, 'how do I teach my children about nature?' I’m an interpretive naturalist; 'teaching' is my job. So I speak from experience when I say, 'You can’t, yet. Not until you know that nature really can’t be taught; it can only be discovered. And we adults cannot share in discovery until we reawaken our own ability to see the world through childlike eyes.'

A good way to begin discovering nature is by becoming more 'sense-able.'

Teach your eyes, for example, to see, not just to look. Become alert for movement, large and small, in the grass, in the sky, at the borders of your vision. Look for colors that differ from their surroundings and for subtle changes and mixtures of hue. (There must be a hundred shades of green or brown in any summery scene). Look for shapes that seemingly don’t belong—a bird-shape or pine cone amid the fine branchlets of a tree.

As we, with our children, develop an appreciation for our Father’s creations, we also develop those other elements of faith—a sense of wonder and a sense of truth. Together we are discovering nature—including human nature and the divine nature as well."

OK, this is Megan speaking now. My favorite way to help my children discover nature is to become lost in it, literally. Taking roads less traveled, within reason of course, and walking side by side in the discovery keeps me from becoming the glossy-eyed tour guide. I am alert for potential hazards and with my eyes that wide, I see all sorts-of things I would probably miss in a familiar place.

That's one reason our most recent hike through the forest to a hidden waterfall was so spectacular! Not one of us had ever been there. We took a road-nearly-never-traveled and let me tell you, it was hard work! We slid on our bottoms down a ravine, crossed over (and under) fallen logs, and braved rocky footing, all with children holding our hands or in our arms or strapped to us somehow.

The other joyous feelings on our hike were engendered by the company of all my siblings. All of them! We haven't been bushwhacking all together for some time. I only wish that we'd had a way for mom and dad to come along, although I think they've always been pretty good at telling us to "have fun storming the castle" then listening to our telling of the adventure later.

I love my brothers and sisters. I love my brother's wife and daughter (they also have a BOY on the way), and I obviously love my sweet husband and babies. Our family keeps getting cooler and cooler with each addition! I just can't wait for my other siblings to marry their catches. I guess I can wait for my age 10 sister to get a little more... old (though she's pretty adept at acting "grown-up." I mean, look at that snooki-poof she made herself. This hike was exactly what the doctor ordered for this Disney-channel super-star buff.)

The hike was tough. The company was sublime. The husband was looking pretty darn hot.

And we were so very thankful for our good friends Rusty and Marlaine who heard about this waterfall and let us bum an adventure.

Walking around the rock-wall edge to see such majesty... I was so glad to share that moment with my children. Poor Moe was asleep in the front-pack but I doubt her eyes could have made any sense of the white blob of water anyway.

Bottoms before hike:

Bottoms after hike:

Sweet success.

1 comment:

Laura said...

How beautiful! That is exactly what I want for my kids, because that is what I grew up with. I have really struggled to get out and about because it's so much harder with two toddlers and a baby, but you inspire me. If you can do it, so can I. Thanks for the article -love it!

(Delete that last post, I think I was signed in as my husband).