“In nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy, and privacy: a place distant from the adult world, a separate peace.” – Last Child in the Woods
Several times a week, we head up the street to a local park. It’s an old rundown park even by Hungarian standards, but we actually enjoy it most when it is overgrown and teeming with life. The mowers come once every few weeks, and we are always sad when the meadows are stripped bare and we have to wait for them to regrow to their wild beauty once more.There is a big path that circles around the edge of the park, and a small play space in the middle. We prefer the path though, and finding quiet spaces to sit and think, or exploring what’s new each time we visit, as the days pass by and the season unfolds around us. Subtle differences, but each so appreciated with the practice of slowing down and observing.
Margot often runs off into the deep grass of the meadow. I have her coated in a layer of herbal bug repellant balm I made, so I don’t worry too much about any bugs that may find her, and she rarely gets any bites at all. She so loves to sit with the swaying grasses around her. I think she imagines she is far away, judging by the quietness that comes over her when she sits for awhile, immersed in thought or simple games in her lap with a collection of leaves and twigs.
As usual for my girl, Margot has a perfect balance of inward contemplation and ecstatic outward bursts of energy. One moment she is basking in the sunshine, considering the mysteries of the meadow, and the next moment she is giggling and squealing, running from wildflower to wildflower, reveling in her speed and the joy of living and running among other wild things.
And I let her run far. She’s not yet three years old, but I let her run off from me a good distance (as long as it’s not towards the road), letting her have some actual independence and exploration of her own, with mama just in sight and hearing distance. But I trust her. And through that she will learn to understand her own capabilities and to stretch them further too.
Hidden among the green of the park, we discover tiny creatures of many kinds: bees, lady bugs, insects, and sometimes bunnies too. Also, mushrooms and so, so many wildflowers, all set to the backdrop of birdsong. This park is a bit more of an open space compared to the rest of the big hill we live on, so there’s usually just the loveliest breeze gently passing through, even on warmer days.
I always encourage Margot to collect some nature treasures to bring home with us… but interestingly, she seems to think they are best left outdoors, as if they want to stay there. We always bring a basket along and she will collect things and carry them with us for awhile, but she always insists on emptying her basket before we return home again.
Cassian is usually riding along on my back in the baby carrier. Depending on the time of day of our venture, he takes a nap or is just content to watch. I let him out of the carrier often though for awhile, to touch the earth, and turn things over in his hands. Babies need this grounding and experience in nature as well, even if I am constantly pulling bits of grass and things out of his mouth, ha. It is worth it though to see the look of pure wonder come over him as he gets to discover and explore such a different environment than what he is used to in our home.
We so enjoy our park time! It’s a lovely, quiet place, where we rarely encounter anyone else. Probably because it hasn’t had fancy, shiny updated equipment since before I was born. But that’s okay. We are personally there for the wind in the trees, the gently curving path, the buzz of the bees, and the springtime sun warming our backs as we sit in the grass to learn and play.
“Nature inspires creativity in a child by demanding visualization and the full use of the senses.” – Last Child in the Woods
This is part of a Little Woodlanders series! Also check out…
- Little Woodlanders: an Introduction
- Spring: in the Garden
- Spring: in the Forest
- Spring: Under the Cherry Tree
- Spring: Wildcrafting Herbs