17 April 2015
For many years the advent of Spring, with its warmer temperatures, marked a change in our rhythm. You see for a few winters we took to hibernation, only venturing out to visit friends or do our weekly shop. We are prone to having winters that are grey and heavy, with lots of grey cloud which brings the rain, damp cold is the very worse kind. It gets inside you and chills you to the bone. So when my children both reached that age where they were too heavy to be carried all day, but their legs were too short for walking about fast enough to keep me warm we virtually stopped going out in the Winter.
That time seems so recent, yet so far away now. As the children grew I was determined to spend more of the colder months doing things outside but each time I tried something new, attempting to venture out seemed like trying to hold back the tide and when we were out all they wanted to do was go home. I was clearly choosing the wrong activities.
I know that some people go for a walk at the same time everyday, I thought this sounded like a lovely idea. But it just didn't work for us. I thought perhaps if we did the same walk every week round our village, that might work? No. What has worked is setting aside one afternoon a week, usually the same afternoon to focus on being outside. Going for a walk, a bike ride, birdwatching.....this year we have decided to vist the same wood every month to see how it changes through the seasons. We did this once before, about three years ago and the children requested we did it again. Our walks have taken us all over the place, up big hills, around lakes, through castle grounds, along rivers. But what has been so wonderful is that we carried on doing this right through the winter without really noticing.
I know that much is written about the lack of time children spend out of doors, the lack of connection to nature. What I always knew to be true was that the more time you spend outside the more time you want to spend, and that this would naturally lead to loving it rather than hating it. We always fear the unknown. So what started as a birdwatching trip once a month has turned into birdwatching every time we are out and about. We have started to be able to spot birds by their flight and their song. A very wet winter afternoon spent identifying trees by their winter buds has led to both children being able to identify a number of trees in this way far more reliably than I can!
I spent so much of my childhood outside. I grew up in a town but we lived on a road with few cars, less people owned cars in the 70s, large gardens and there were lots of open spaces and tree belts nearby. We rode bikes, built dens, cooked on fires in all weathers. I worked outside for over ten years, all year round. I need to spend time outside to feel recharged and connected.
It makes my heart sing that, for now, I have found what works for us.