My children are not known for wanting to leave the house. As a matter of fact, I think that if I were to tell them tomorrow that I would never again make them go anywhere that they would be thrilled beyond belief.
I guess that’s not entirely true. The Princess has taken a keen interest in the outdoors this spring. Last year she was so terrified of bugs that she barely set foot outside. This year she’s a little braver (unless of course it’s a wasp, and then I don’t blame her there). She spends a lot of time in our fenced in back yard, especially when Evil Genius needs help in his garden. He calls to her when he gets home every afternoon and she beats it out there to help him inspect the veggies.
Despite her newly found interest in the outdoors, she has been fighting me any time I want to go out of our yard for walks. This would be because I told her that when she was five she would be too big for the stroller. Once she actually turned five and realized that she had to work for it, our walking time pretty much came to a screeching halt. It’s too bad because I miss those walks, but I need to stand my ground, because she really is getting too big to fit!
Through bribery we have made a couple of successful attempts out recently. Both times she was on her little Barbie scooter, and both times we were thwarted by rain. Not just a little rain, each time it let loose and caught us in a downpour. And it has just rained, and rained, and rained these last few weeks. Even the days without rain have been wet because the ground doesn’t get enough time to recover between rainy days. We had a drought last year, so we certainly don’t want to complain much about the ample supply of rain!
So imagine my delight (and surprise!) when she asked if we could take a little walk together this past week. I hurriedly got ready and rushed out the door with her before she could change her mind. I expected we would go to the end of the block and she would be done with it.
As it turned out, she had an agenda. She wanted to go on a nature walk. Our little walk turned into a lovely long one as she explored and gathered the nature that our little rural Iowa town has to offer. This was a wonderful learning experience for her. She learned the difference between a wildflower and something that someone has planted. We picked all kinds of wildflowers along the way. We looked at different kinds of mushrooms. We touched moss and felt different kinds of rocks. She collected sticks, rocks, nuts, and interesting looking leaves. Her little hands were full, so I had to carry her flowers for her.
We agreed that we needed to do this again. Next time we decided that we would take a basket or a bag, and she could collect nature treasures to her little heart’s content.
Even once we returned home she wasn’t finished with the outdoors just yet. She took me on a tour of the backyard, and told me all about our garden and all of the wonderful things growing in it. She’s particularly excited about the strawberries and cherry tomatoes, the two things that I will be shocked to see actually make it into our house before being devoured.
I was further surprised the next day when she begged to take another nature walk right after breakfast. She spent quite a bit of time convincing her brother to agree to go, and then actually get him excited about the walk. He was leery until she mentioned that they might be able to gather some pine cones. I’m not so sure what is so exciting about that, but he was actually interested and that was all I needed to hear!
Armed with baskets and buckets (and my camera) we showed him all of the wonderful things we had seen the previous time. He was interested at first, but once he collected his nature findings he quickly tired of it. He continued to lag further and further behind, catching up with us for a minute or two and then start dragging his feet again. She wanted to keep walking and walking, while he just wanted to get back home to examine his treasures. My children are indeed opposites in this respect: she is about the journey, he is about the destination.
Once finally home they went happily running to the backyard to sort all of the things they had found. This was unfortunately cut short by yet another rain shower. At least mother nature allowed us to finish our walk this time!
We have continued to take these little walks whenever we can. Each time she has a different motive for wanting to go out. The last time we went on our walk she made sure to announce to everyone we passed that she was collecting smooth rocks because she wanted to paint them. I love it.
While her brother prefers books and electronics, the world is her classroom. She is so full of questions, and wonder. I hope she continues this love of nature clear into her adulthood. She is my little nature girl.