Despite living among piles (and piles) of dirty dishes, dirty laundry, and dirty diapers, we all felt the pull of the outdoors this weekend. We escaped the humble place we call home and attempted some kite-flying and visited a local park, as I was in desperate need of some shady trees (oh, summer is coming on fast here).
We walked along the trail and noticed fishermen, waterfowl and spiderwebs. I was able to take the time to appreciate the tree cover and the natural wonder – quite a feat considering this park is surrounded by asphalt and strip malls. But, once inside the vast acreage, the everyday “life” things seemed to melt away. We could only hear birds – and the water lapping on the shore of the lake.
This excitement carried me through to today and we went for a short walk through the neighborhood – just the three of us.
As a classic suburb kid, I long to live somewhere with lots of land and most importantly, a little stream running through the property (not too unrealistic, huh?). Most of my favorite stories are those set in the country (with a proper toilet, thank you very much). I’ve also noticed that in many of the picture books we read, those that present my idyllic version of childhood are ones where the houses are surrounded by hills and valleys and the children are allowed to run free. Seeing as how there are few hills in Florida, I will have to assume that these are mostly small New-England-type areas. (The same books where everyone is happy that it snows because no one has to rush off and join the morning commute to work)!
Psychologists note, that as a race, we are notoriously bad at knowing what will make us happy. As I do have an affinity for certain conveniences (fabric shops and a natural food store), I’m not sure a farm in rural Florida is the best solution. But, more significantly, does it matter to my kids if we live in the suburbs and visit the parks on the weekend? Can they come away with the same experiences as long as they have unstructured free time in the woods?
For me, it’s hard to tell. My kids are too young to have free roam in any type of woods right now, but the oldest can hang out in our (teeny tiny) backyard by himself if he would like. I do scan the area for snakes (since we’ve seen a few back there), but I love being able to give him that sense of freedom. I’m also interested in these for when they get older. For now, I am content to continue to encourage his sense of wonder and our neighborhood walks are good enough for that. Besides, a stick is a stick – no matter where you found it.