Last week, before the interminable rain descended upon us, we were able to get out with our homeschool group for a nature walk on local trails. The organiser had actually arranged for two naturalists from the field naturalist club to come out and take the children ‘off trail’ showing them cool bits of nature and history that they would not have seen otherwise. This added such a great dimension to the walk and we were out for over 2 1/2 hours without even noticing the time.
The morning had started very cold (-11 with wind chill) but in the forest the children certainly didn’t seem to notice the cold! As soon as we arrived and began hand feeding the birds they were enchanted.
One of the naturalists found bones tucked away in a fallen tree and later confirmed that they were the remains of a cotton tail rabbit that had probably been eaten by a weasel. The children were really fascinated and were even able to take home some of the bones for their nature journals and collections.
It was so wonderful to watch the children playing for hours on a fallen tree, they never seemed to tire of the endless possibilities it offered. They climbed in and out of the ‘dens’ that were within its decayed body, they climbed up to lookout points, they relaxed against its warm bark basking in the sunshine on this cold, cold day.
Watching the children discover bones and caterpillars and secret dens, all with little or no direction from the adults who accompanied them, was so uplifting. It reminded me of how simple things can be. Ours is a culture that is driven to own more, to create then fulfill a need with a product and nowhere is this more evident than the run up to the christmas season and the drive to buy more for our kids. Yet here they were. No computers, no gadgets or games, just a tree trunk, some bird seed and adults who are willing to get them where they needed to go. Simple.
I also felt really lucky that we were just able to pop along on this walk, on a day that turned out to be utterly perfect. Last year, when Huwyl was attending JK, he went on a small field trip to the same area. We had to fill out a three part health and safety form and the trip was nearly cancelled due to a lack of volunteers, it took weeks to organise and was the only trip they went on for the whole year. It was around 30 mins long. Yet in the last month we have visited two museums, been on a homeschool nature walk and several of our own, done our own activities and visited with friends for play dates. I love thinking about the variety of experience that the boys are getting and that they are not limited by what a school setting can offer.
More than anything else I just felt lucky to be able to watch the boys be free in nature on this stunning winter day, lucky to be a part of their every day moments.
It may seem contrary but homeschooling is actually giving us the freedom to fly our own way, sometimes with the flock and sometimes in a different direction. I look forward to many more days like this one, a day that dawns sunny and bright, calling us to wrap up warm, come outside and take flight.