It's funny how we begin to crave the upcoming season at the end of one. I truly believe in embracing each season and finding the beauty and uniqueness in it, especially the winter because it can be the hardest to appreciate. Across the street is a giant pecan tree, who's bare branches are so stunning against the negative space of the grey sky. You can see the squirrels jumping from branch to branch on it, and its always in our view out of the living room window. Usually the red bird will be on a branch outside of our kitchen window, usually in the same place, its color standing out against the bleakness of the backyard. As much as I am craving Spring and everything that comes with it, I have been making it a point to embrace this winter, especially by taking daily walks with the boys. It's easy to feel cooped up during the winter, and sure there are a lot of places to take the kids during the week, which we do from time to time. But to us, a long, unrushed, walk outside is just the best thing in the world. I am always inspired by the people who spend so much time outdoors with their kids, no matter the season. I know of people who take walks after dinner everyday, and some that take their kids to the park every other day, whatever it is, I just think it is so important for both adults and children to carve out that time outdoors.
There are ways we make our walks meaningful and memorable. The first is by not rushing. We never have anywhere to be so this part is easy, but I think that kids can really get tired of "hurry up, keep up, do this now, do that now." It is impossible not to say those things when you have places to be, going to church, while shopping, on your way to appointments, out at a restaurant, etc. So how great is it to carve out time when those phrases just are not allowed? To let them explore the world in their own time, taking time to pay attention to every stick, every dog they pass, every strange plant they see. I have been doing this on our walks and it even feels good to me, to remind myself that we have no where to be, and that I can watch them explore and teach them, and answer all of their questions. I don't use the stroller for Elliot, I just hold his hand until he wants to bend down and pick something up, usually a stick. If they stop, I stop, and we focus on what has caught their attention. If they want to climb up on a hill along the way, I stop and let them, always reminding myself, we have no where to be, just let them take their time. And my reward is their joy and their smiles and the wonder in their eyes, and holding chilly little hands, and teaching them something new.
Another way is to make the walk educational. You can think of a topic to talk about as you wander, and answer all of the questions without any distraction. Sometimes we gather a nature collection in a basket, and it is like a treasure hunt for Cohen. He fills it with nuts, pine cones, leaves, sticks, rocks, to him, these are as good as gold, and then we go through the basket on the porch when we get home. It is the perfect way to teach them about the seasons, and the weather, which Cohen is obsessed with learning about right now.
Finally, it is just good to remember that it is good for the soul, it can be so healing mentally and physically. Even if it sitting on your porch, or playing with chalk on your driveway. To make time daily to get outside, feel the breeze against your face and hear the sounds. The sound of cartoons and fussy kids all melts away when you step outside. They are filled with cheerful questions, happy squeals, birds, and in our case, trains and chickens. All a welcome change from being trapped inside.
I took some photos of the boys on a couple of our walks, when we didn't look completely homeless, so I can look back one day and all of the memories and imagery will come flooding back to me.
So of course I am so excited for Spring, but I am thankful for this Winter, and giving us so much beauty to look at and memories of little dudes in knit hats and rosy cheeks.