Being outside, getting dirty

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.
– Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

A future zucchini from our garden

When R was a baby, I read this book and my thinking was forever changed. His ideas are not new, but they made perfect sense to me. At the time, I had a longing for home-grown vegetables and farm life, something which seemed in marked contrast to my very brown thumb. I seemed to have a problem remembering to water my houseplants.

A few months later, I did try my hand at home-grown veggies (tomatoes) and they grew and flourished, but didn’t fruit. I had much better luck with my herbs – they were also outside and they grew and grew. I have a sneaking suspicion that my wonderful neighbor – an avid gardener – was taking pity on my neglected herbs and watering them. I haven’t had that much success since we’ve moved.


Lately, I’ve been wondering if it is time to create a more formal approach to nature for R. Dr. Montessori felt that children from ages 3-6 were hungry for scientific vocabulary. In her observations, she noted the constant desire for new words during this time period – this age group has a sensitivity to language.

And, while I wholeheartedly agree – his favorite question is “why?” As in, “why is that truck broken, why did they take down those garage doors, why are there bugs outside…” It’s enough to drive a sleep-deprived, caffeine-free mama a bit loopy.  But, I want to give him the “real” answer, whenever possible. So, we look up the names of birds we see, and discuss possible answers for the other questions.


However, I think that for the time being, I will heed Rachel Carson’s words and concentrate on sustaining the sense of wonder – and in doing so, rekindle my excitement as well.