By Beth Sullivan
This time of year always seems to sneak up on me, and the changes catch me by surprise. One would guess after all these years I would be better at remembering, anticipating, and preparing.
Of course in our early years we always knew school was coming, and that marked the change. We got ready by buying pencil boxes and new crayons. Later it was binders and notebooks and calculators. Then we had our own kids, and we were again buying those same things. The seasonal changes seemed to blend into the expected activity.
Over the years I have also gotten used to hearing the school buses go by, but I mark my seasonal changes by watching the birds and plants and thinking about family birthdays all clustered at this time of year. Some things don’t change, but it seems like everything else has. When I think of the changes, I can get really depressed, but I have decided to try to pay attention to the positive, to try and remember the good in people and the consistency in nature, even in the face of change.
A little bit of dirt never hurt anyone.
|Allow your inner child a chance to have a little fun, too.|
Almost exactly six years ago I wrote a blog dedicated to my first grandchild, Emerson. I couldn’t wait to be his nature teacher (not that his parents couldn’t do it!). In the following years we have done everything I hoped and more. We have explored woods, played in brooks, walked and talked about all sorts of things from insects and birds and mushrooms to the magic of acorns. When he was two, we discovered “birdies on the phone”, the Audubon Bird ID app. How much fun we had learning the birds and their sounds. Never doubt that the lessons learned at an early age can last a lifetime. He still knows his way around that app better than I do.
Two years ago we welcomed a granddaughter, Ava. From day one, or maybe two, we walked outside. The best way to soothe a crying infant, and let a tired mom get some rest, was to bring her out to see the sky and trees and feel the breeze. A favorite place was under a maple tree where we could watch the leaves move and see the play of light through them. That summer was a good summer to be outside. This little girl learned early about animals of all sizes - dogs, goats and even horses. She is comfortable out in nature, and even enjoys pointing out ‘buggies’ where her bright little eyes find them. She will run barefoot over any kind of surface, hop in puddles with glee, and keeps her mom busy with laundry and trying to match socks she has discarded along the way. Her first word, or command, was “OUTSIDE!” and is still tops on her vocabulary list.
Now we have a third grandchild, Clara. She is almost one. Such a wonderful age. Of course every age is wonderful. She is following in the footsteps of her brother, literally, as she is learning to climb and explore. She, too, has a fondness for leaves, rocks, acorns, and water. She knows how to use a few words of sign language and ‘birdie’ is one of her favorites. She can spot them high and hear them from afar.
Yes, things have changed. I can’t be with my little ones as much as I would like. But we can still communicate, share treasures, photos, and adventures. Being close to children now is so important; they are such sponges for information and needy for opportunities to connect and learn. They are also fonts of joy and hope.
Emerson now can teach Clara all the secrets he has learned.
|Independence, self confidence, and joy are all possible outdoors when you are six.|
|Learning to be with animals is a gift that will last a lifetime. |
Go outside with children
As the season changes, the children especially will need ways to stretch away from computers, to get rid of masks for a bit if possible. Adopt a child to nurture, or at the very least, adopt a childlike nature for yourself, and take some time to stop the speeding madness and take in the true beauty of this time of year. Embrace the changes as they arise, and do your very best to begin an outward ripple of positivity and hope. Kids do that without even thinking.
OUTSIDE! is where Ava wants to be.
|Sometimes I feel like this when I am outdoors.|
|Why bother with toys when a leaf is just perfect.|
Photographs by Beth Sullivan and her family.