Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nature

We just got back from a glorious trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. First, I have the satisfaction of a trip well planned and somewhat frugal. By scrimping on meals, we felt more free to splurge on activities such as the Cog Railway and Storyland.

I love to travel, challenging as it can be with children. I love cities in particular, exploring architecture and history. But since we've had kids, our trips involve nature more often than not. While I miss the cities, I do value our excursions in nature because it's good for the kids.

When I was young, I spent a lot more time outdoors than my kids do. This issue has been much discussed. The increase in television viewing and computer game playing makes our children more sedentary. Even now, my daughter is downstairs playing with her Webkinz online.

Getting out into the wilderness is a conscious choice we make to ensure that our kids appreciate nature. This weekend we hiked 5.4 miles and played in the Zealand Falls. We went to the top of Mt. Washington on a crystal clear day and could see for miles. We scrambled through a series of natural caves, cool and dark. On the hike, my daughter stopped when she noticed tree roots in a pattern that resembled a hand. We all put our hands next to the roots while my husband took photos.

But we don't always have to travel far to appreciate nature. Our backyard has been an amazing resource. We live right outside a major city in the Northeast. Less than a mile away to the east you can find horse farms and livestock, and a mile or so to the west you can find a major urban area. Here's what we have found in our backyard:

Bunny rabbits
A woodchuck
A painted turtle
A catbird nest with many eggs that later hatched
A star-nosed mole (actually, my husband found it in the house!)
Dragonflies
And of course the usual squirrels, chipmunks, and generic birds. I have seen a cardinal once or twice.

This fall I plan to put up some bird feeders to attract some more birds.

I have never been "into" nature; it's my husband who has encouraged us all to appreciate the outdoors more. But I'm glad that he has pushed us to appreciate the outdoors. So much about our culture today drives us indoors instead of outside.

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