I grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Gorges, waterfalls, and lakes meant plenty of time spent outdoors exploring, hiking, swimming, walking in the woods, cliff jumping, camping, and bonfires. We caught crickets, frogs, fireflies, and made mini dams in the creeks and mud pies to perfection. Gardner snakes (red belly racers), cray fish, pollywogs, and salamanders were part of everyday nature. I remember loving how summer seemed endless. There were no day camps, no lessons, no alarm clocks, just sunshine and playing outside. Or maybe this is just the part that I loved and has stayed with me all these years.
My life is very different as an adult. I no longer live in a rural environment. I do not own acres and acres of land to explore. I miss this picturesque life of childhood; growing up in the late 70’s. TV had not yet consumed us. We lived on a mountain where the local cable company did not run cable. We had one channel by way of an antenna on our TV. There were no cell phones, no laptops, our grandmother lived a stone throw away, life seemed safe. I want to give my daughter this same feeling of wonder, nature, safety and a connection with the environment.
Until I gave birth to my daughter, I had not realized how much I craved putting down roots. I needed to feel the sunlight on my face more than ever and I needed to move my postpartum body. I began walking with my daughter in the evenings. Eventually I got involved with a local branch of a parent/child hiking group. It has been the motivation I needed to really explore with my daughter.
Now, when she runs to the back door and says ” mommy, dirts?”, I know I am doing something right. I open the back door and walk with her to the tree where we dig in the dirt together. We are connected in this moment. Connected to one another and our true mother, our earth.