This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their stories and tips for playing outside with kids. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Where there are flowers, there are faeries. Just a few steps into the garden, my son and I slip away into another world where nothing is at it seems. We drink in lustrous streams of color, alluring scents, bees humming, shapes and textures and tastes, waves of energy, healing sun, and the secrets and wisdom known to those who sit with plants, touch them, taste them, listen to their words tracing our ears like a warm breeze. The garden is a womb for conception and growth--it is life itself--and into this space I bring Sasha, so that he too can experience the magic of the green world.
He makes his way one foot in front of the other-- a tip toe, a slip slide, a bare foot print in the dirt-- with the caress of the soil, warm and damp on his skin. He crawls through the gardens on hands and knees while the dogs follow close behind or lead him further than he has gone before. He sees this world close up and down low and because of this, he knows that he breathes the same air as the creatures around him. Or he will. This is my hope, my dream.
Damselflies are faeries in disguise," I tell him this morning when one lands on his arm. A month ago, he would have jerked his arm away instantly. Today his face reveals curiosity, acceptance, enchantment at this creature with long luminous wings, and he remains very still, waiting to see what will happen. I don't know what he is aware of at this young age, how much he perceives, but still I set the stage for the time when we not only point to what is visible and known, but for the moments when we search for what cannot be seen but that we believe to exist.
Before this busy year, my garden was something to behold; now there is much work to do, and yet still it thrives like a child's imagination, like my child who joins me as I work an empty or overgrown space for a few minutes at a time instead of whole days. Once it was a hypnotic and backbreaking process, now it is a domain of discovery for him, of rediscovery for me. Some visits we are side by side; others I move through the plants tending to them and he observes with patience or follows where his own instincts guide him. Today as we weave moments together, we lay our tracks on our land.
"Faeries allow us what they wish us to see," I say as ribbons of purple bloom blow in the wind. "There is a faery for each flower." Sasha leans in and touches the beautiful, delicate foliage, then runs his fingers along the masses of tiny flowers. A month ago, he did not like the feeling of plants against his bare skin anymore than he could tolerate the grass against his feet. Now he runs naked and free without hesitation like a flash of light-- or a faery-- reminding me of everything that is to come.
And there is so much ahead of us with Sasha just 15 months old. There are stories to tell and so much to learn about even this particular flower that he holds in his hand. "A flower," I tell him, then "salvia" even though I'm not sure if he yet recognizes the word flower. Someday I hope he will understand the plants' parts and processes, say their names like his own. I hope he will know the plants intimately, their desires and needs, personalities and souls. Someday I hope he will witness a sparkle of pixie dust, a small sound, a whisper or giggle or sigh and know that he is in the presence of something magical and that he will leave out small treasures that will bring worlds together.
Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Garden Treats — Asha at Mom Costume has once again been bitten by the gardening bug — and this time her baby's tagging along for some fresh air and dirt exploration. (@titbagsandsnoot)
- Outdoor Free Roam — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting follows her daughter's lead whenever they go outside. (@mamapoekie)
- Summer fun in Austin with a toddler — Jessica at This Is Worthwhile is brainstorming ways to beat the heat in Texas. (@tisworthwhile)
- summer fun… — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children is looking forward to spending the summer outside with her children the way she used to spend summers with her mother.
- Outdoor Fun for Pre-Walkers — Maman A Droit has figured out ways to let her pre-walker enjoy the outdoors. (@MamanADroit)
- Summer Homeschool Fun at Camp Review — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now discusses how Camp Review motivated and captivated her homeschooling family. (@DebChitwood)
- Digging, Tree Climbing and Puddle Jumping — Laura at Laura's Blog bemoans the loss of her girls' climbing tree but knows they'll find something else just as naturally tempting.
- The Sweet Smells of Summer — Erin at A Beatnik's Beat on Life is looking forward to the many smells of summer she and her daughters enjoy and identify. (@babybeatnik)
- June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor Fun — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker is a confirmed couch potato who can't help but be inspired by the outdoor opportunities Seattle offers her family. (@sybilryan)
- Take a Hike — Michelle at The Parent Vortex connects with her family and the Earth on frequent hikes in their Pacific wilderness. (@TheParentVortex)
- Following Paul — Julie at Simple Life gives her kids unstructured time to dig in the dirt and pick mulberries. (@homemakerjulie)
- Instilling a Love of the Outdoors in Your Baby/Toddler — Tessasdad at Stay At Home Dad in Lansing offers a photo book of tips for helping your little ones enjoy the outdoors. (@tessasdad)
- Camping, baby! — Jen at Grow With Graces has easy tips for tent camping with a little one. (@growwithgraces)
- Think Outside the Easel for Summertime Fun — Acacia at Be Present Mama finds several ways to bring art fun to the outdoors.
- Outdoor Learning in our Urban Environment — Andrea at Ella-Bean & Co. has found ways to get grass between her daughter's toes, even in the city.
- Outdoor Education — Alison at BluebirdMama offers parents tips and resources for making each outdoor excursion a learning experience. (@childbearing)
- Turning Inside Out — Christie of Childhood 101 finds kids get a kick out of taking indoor toys outside. (@Childhood101)
- Watching Peas Sprout — Deb at Science@home combines fun with purpose in this educational outdoor activity. (@ScienceMum)
- How To Create a Pirate Treasure Hunt & Other Easy Outdoor Pirate Activities (June Carnival of Natural Parenting) — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has pirate-themed play ideas for ye scurvy landlubbers. (@CodeNameMama)
- What We Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has managed to expose her 8-month-old to a wide variety of outdoor fun, even with the notoriously dreary UK weather. (@diaryfirstchild)
- Summer Fun — Darcel at The Mahogany Way finds her family's visits to the beach refreshing in so many ways. (@MahoganyWayMama)
- Playing outside without a backyard — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes doesn't let the lack of a backyard stop her family from enjoying the outdoors. There are plenty of things to do outside of your yard! (@sheryljesin)
- Having Fun Outdoors, Playset Free — Guavalicious at They Are So Cute When They Are Sleeping has resisted a backyard playset in favor of the regular backyard. (@guavalicious)
- Moon Gazing with your Toddler — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries is keeping her toddler up at night, but it's for a good reason: to share the wonders of the night sky! (@babydust)
- the great outdoors — The grumbles at grumbles and grunts wonders whether her urban child can experience the same free-range childhood she enjoyed. (@thegrumbles)
- Let's Take It Outside! — NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing is looking for ideas: how can she spend time with her pre-walker outside this summer? (@BlkWmnDoBF)
- A home by the sea: June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor fun — Lauren at Hobo Mama is living her dream of a home near the beach, and taking full advantage of it. (@Hobo_Mama)
- An Outside Girl — Zoey at Good Goog moved her family to (almost) the middle of nowhere so that her outdoor-loving girl could have more grass and less concrete. (@zoeyspeak)
- Neighborhood Nature — Kelly at Kelly Naturally has learned to connect with the nature she has instead of mourning the nature she misses. (@kellynaturally)
- Building Lovely Memories of Swimming, Spiders and Gravestones — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch and her family are simply outdoorsy people. (@kitchenwitch)
- "Buh-Bye" Season — Danielle at born.in.japan must leave laundry behind and follow her son's call to the outdoors. (@borninjp)
- Backyard Camping — Becoming Mamas took her family camping very close to home! (@becomingmamas)
- The Color of Dreams — Seeking Mother at Woman Seeking Mother makes gardening magical by teaching her son that each flower is a faery. (@seekingmother)