Closer to Nature

It dawned on me the other day when we were taking a walk that Calvin is much more attuned to nature than he would have been in Singapore. He loves to romp around nature trails and would always pick up flowers, sticks, rocks, pine cones, acorns and any  leaves. whether they are old, rotten, green or brown, when we go out for walks. The basket of his tricycle used to be full of rocks from our backyard, all looking the same dull grey; the back was filled with an assortment of leaves and pinecones, all of which we took the opportunity to empty out when we had to put the tricycle in the car boot.

He loved hiking around Shenandoah National Park and has been asking us to go again. Part of that might be because we always get burgers and french fries at the restaurant when we go there. He did incredibly well on one of our hikes to the waterfall. We might visit it again this weekend and I’ve been looking forward to blueberry season because they apparently have wild blueberries growing there. We’ve also enjoyed our trips to the apple orchard and strawberry farm.

In comparison to some of the other American kids, he’s still  timid when it comes to insects. He won’t touch any insects at all whereas some of them would run barefoot outdoors and put caterpillars on their arm. Part of that may be because of my own dislike for insects. I’d never put my hand on any bugs except ants and ladybugs. Up until recently, just looking at pictures of slimy creatures like slugs or caterpillars made me shiver involuntarily. It was only last year when we had a few moth caterpillars on our tomato plant and I managed to pick them off with a stick that I finally felt like “Hey, it’s not that bad as long as I don’t have to touch them”. After that I caught another hairy looking caterpillar on a tree so I could show Calvin, so I believe the exposure has finally gotten me over my phobia.

I was a total city kid growing up. I rarely if ever pay attention to plants and insects. I’ve never dug in the dirt for fun, probably because it was too dirty. I never knew what a strawberry plant looks like until we started growing them ourselves, so all the exposure to nature is a treat to me too. In fact, I think I might even enjoy our outings more than Calvin does! When we go out, I can now at least identify some of the flowers and trees and I’m always on the lookout for interesting things to point out to him. In general, I feel like I’ve become more aware and appreciative of our surroundings.

It’s not to say you can’t learn to really enjoy nature in a city but it takes a lot more effort from the parents to encourage the kids to just explore. If most parents are like mine, digging in the dirt will certainly not be on the list of allowable things to do. Generally, you’ll have to travel to a park or nature center to get significant greenery and when you travel so far, parents tend to have a specific goal: climb up the hill or see some special landmark of some sort rather than allow the kids to freely immerse themselves. I think it will take a very patient and understanding parent to be able to travel half an hour to a destination and then allow their children to just sit at the entrance digging in the dirt for common bugs if that’s what they choose to do.

Running at the P.  playground

Running at the P. playground

 

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