This time of year in dreary, damp weather it can be easy to fall out of the daily walk rhythm. It’s been a mild winter in the northeast, and we haven’t seen a lot of snow (although I hear that is about to change!)- but plenty of rain and gray skies. It may not always look inviting outside, but I often find we have some of our best adventures on these days. Children are fascinated with water in its various forms- puddles (especially ice-crusted ones!), measuring the depth in creeks and streams, making tracks in mud or snow or using it as a canvas to draw with sticks, hopping across roadside ditches when they have small streams flowing through them… and though it always seems to feel like such an effort to get small children all geared up to get outside, once we are out I am always soooo happy we did. Once they are outside, they are not squabbling, or looking for someone (me!) or something (toys!) to entertain them. They are engaged in observing, moving, testing. The great wide world is so much bigger than us, with those enormous, heavy blankets of clouds closely guarding the earth, and the mist of rain or slight sting of cold on our warm faces makes us feel alive!
A favorite outdoors activity lately has been stomping on ice. The edges of the creek have been icy, and they love to stomp, stomp, stomp and break pieces of ice, then send them floating down the stream, watching them transform from sharp-edged, white pieces into soft and translucent ones, melting away.
It’s nice to have some meaningful work for them to do sometimes, and since we are hoping to make our own tree blocks soon, we have been bringing our hacksaw and the boys have fun taking turns playing lumberjack (with very close supervision, of course!). This nice piece of maple fell in the wind recently, and now it is drying near the woodstove.
Counting the rings…
Even on days where there is no ice, it’s still fun to wade and splash in rubber boots!
The gray sky seems to accentuate the rich colors of earth’s palette, creating a stark backdrop to behold nature’s treasures.
And the wet landscape magnifies the intensity of every color. Each tree trunk seems a richer brown…
The moss, almost fluorescent.
The carpet of leaves on the ground are shiny and vivid.
Above me, diamonds glitter everywhere…
From the naked tree branches, to the airy hemlock boughs.
This place always feels enchanted to us. Mama Monica says that every forest has its own feel to it. Here, I always feel so young, probably because I am filled with such wonder, and wonder is the essence of childhood, isn’t it? I always expect to see a stag running past us, a huntsman from one of Grimm’s tales, or a unicorn pausing to drink from the clear waters.
In the midst of the otherwise barren trees, a stand of golden covered branches seems an oasis, a dream.
The children find the remains of an ancient tree house.
Our kitten, who follows us everywhere, is thinking this really looks like fun.
The sun is descending. It’s time to return home.
No one wants to leave this place, but the lure of a warm, toasty house- with a fire burning in the woodstove, light streaming from the windows like a beacon in the darkening landscape, and snack time, persuade us.
Now, as I type I am listening to the storm winds blowing and the delicate sound of snow crystals beating on the windows and roof. When the winds calm I know there will be snowsuits and hot chocolate, fairy igloos to build, snow forts to protect from barrages of snowballs… and that huge hill out back is a sledder’s paradise! In the meantime there are stories to tell, cookies to bake, and winter crafts to enjoy (I think I cleaned my library system out on winter activity books- I have 42 books out on loan and 25 more in transit, on hold!). I’ll be back soon to share some activities we did in our North Wind and Snowflakes blocks. Stay warm!