― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Last fall I moved from my home of 32 years. It was hard leaving behind the memories of raising children, entertaining friends, and enjoying the peace of a quiet neighborhood teeming with wildlife. It was the place that we played games, took walks, snowshoed, built tree forts, laughed, and cried. The house was set on a quiet street that allowed us to listen to the turkeys and hawks, gaze upon hummingbirds resting on the perch of the feeder, and glance at deer in the back yard. I found much peace living there for those years. It was difficult to leave our home and the memories we created there, but after living as a widow for 2 years it wasn’t the same and I found it hard to go outside and garden, or sit and enjoy the fresh air. I had mixed emotions about this move, but I found comfort in knowing that I would be moving to the very home that Dave and I had dreamed about owning some day. Winter at the lake was quiet and pretty and I learned to enjoy the stark whites and icy scenes. What I wasn’t expecting was the new life of spring. Just last week I decided to start my morning on the back patio with coffee in hand. The peace of the day was breaking and the warmth of the sun was heavenly. Spring had finally made its appearance and I was able to absorb it all. I sat and watched a creature swimming my way. Thinking it was a lowly muskrat I watched as he moved closer to the wall. As I peered into the lake I spotted a 2 foot wide snapping turtle! As soon as he spied me, he swam off into the depths of the lake. (Hopefully to find another spot away from my swimming area!) Over the course of the next few days I noticed a heron gracefully flying just above the waves, a family of geese, with eight little babies, mom at front and dad in the rear, honking on by, and a hummingbird sipping nectar from my new feeder. Life was returning to the lake and to me as well. Watching all of these signs of nature moved me and reminded me of the preciousness of all the creatures of the earth. I found peace and hope in these moments surrounded by new life. Nature had restored me and gave me a renewed sense of life and of possibilities.
|My neighbor’s dog joins me each day as I sit or work outside.|
I began to reflect on my new found peace. If I can find a slice of peace looking at the world around me, can our students? Especially those children with emotional wounds? Would walks on the school’s nature trails open up possibilities for children in crisis, or every child for that matter? It’s an intriguing thought and one that has me wondering. I know there are ways to incorporate nature into our current curriculum: drawing and writing what we see and hear outside our classrooms, creating journals of our observations of what we find under a log, posting checklists of birds sightings in the tree outside the window, snapping a picture on the class iPad of a bug or spider that crawled upon the bark of the tree on the playground and trying to find it’s name. So many ideas to bridge the curricular areas while re-connecting with the outdoors.
These ideas are nagging at me as I look out my window and I type this slice of life post. I don’t have any immediate answers, but I do know that I am thinking that all children not only need the peace that nature affords us, they deserve this peace, as it is the healing balm for the emotional hardships. I know for I too have benefited from that healing balm.