Sometimes my kids know better than I do what they need. Lately Annika has been asking every day to go out into nature, to have a peaceful walk in the forest. We are fortunate to have a green belt behind our home (it was one of the reasons we picked this house) and it makes a nice place to explore when we don’t have the time or energy for a drive. I think Annika has been feeling the effects of the increased school load, multiple medical visits for the family each week, and the stress of finances. She knows, instinctively, that she needs her time in nature.
Yesterday she took Daddy for a walk and came back with some huge big-leaf maple leaves. Today she wanted time with mommy, and she wanted to bring her Nature Exploration Bag along. It needed a bit of repair, so we had to take care of that first, and she used that time to gather all of her supplies. I’m afraid she’s turning out like me: she wants to be prepared for everything. Rain coat, warm hat, long pants, sweater, magnifying glass, first aid kit, notebook and colored pencils; she thought of it all.
Gabriel came along for a bit, but we sent him back home. He had a sour, complaining attitude that was ruining our enjoyment.
We looked at the fallen leaves, the verdant moss on the trees (it grows on every side of the trees here in the Pacific Northwest!), rain drops on leaves, wood chips from a pileated woodpecker’s excavations of the rotting red alders.
She was interested in exploring all of the side paths that snake through this narrow forest. We walked the entire length of the greenbelt, a distance of about 3 blocks. There is a stream that runs through it; it is never very full, but adds some interest and habitat. She ran and skipped and stopped to look up and around.
After we had gone down and back, she was ready to go back home, refreshed and asking for some cocoa. I was, too. It is easy for me, during the “off-season” of hiking, to have more trouble fighting the inertia of staying comfortable in our warm home. I am grateful for my daughter knowing what she needs, knowing what feeds her, and asking for it. I hope and pray that she continues to remember what brings her sustenance as she gets older and busier in her life, as she continues into the teen years and adult-hood. I hope she will always take the time to escape to nature for refreshment. And maybe she’ll take me along sometimes, too.