“What do parents owe their young that is more important than a warm and trusting connection to the Earth…?” ~ Theodore Roszak
I consider myself somewhat of a country boy. My grandparents had a large farm not too far from where I grew up. Every summer from as early as I can remember until late high school I worked on the farm. I'm sure that's where I developed my early morning routine. I have so many memories of the farm. Learning to drive the big International tractor, getting chased down the lane by an angry chicken, hitting home runs over the fence into the corn field, learning how to milk cows and my favourite, sitting atop the bales of hay stacking them neatly as my grandfather drove the tractor. All great memories, none of which were inside the house. Well, unless I count my favourite couch to nap on after lunch. I had forgotten how much fun one can have just playing outside, let alone the learning that can happen too.
This past weekend was my uncle's 85th birthday party and my cousin planned a large party for him on his farm. It wasn't quite the same as my grandparents farm. He doesn't farm the land, instead he rents most of it out. However he does have some alpacas which gave my daughter and I hours of enjoyment just watching them. But what was really interesting about the whole day out in the country was watching my 3 year old daughter find fun in what all the adults at the party wouldn't have imagined. Puddles. Just after we arrived at the party a heavy rain fell for about an hour. Luckily we were under the tent, safe from the rain. There was a bit of thunder, but no lightning. I'm sure it was my daughter's first thunderstorm because she was stuck to me like glue for the first 10 minutes or so. But after the thunder and rain stopped it was time to explore. And explore she did!
She started out by walking gently through the puddles, watching the small waves run to the edge of the puddle. Then she moved to jumping up and down in the puddle watching the muddy water fly up and splash her legs (and new dress). Then came the marching, running and kicking the water. I was glued to my lawn chair not caring about her dress getting dirty or thinking about the thorough bath she'd need to have in that night. She found small rocks, washed them in the water and then showed me something interesting on the rock. She was discovering nature and all its beauty. By the time we left she hadn't sat down in her favourite Frozen camping chair once. She explored every puddle that had formed from the storm. And she was dirty. But it was worth it. It brought back so many memories of my childhood on the farm, and gave her a chance to experience a little slice of life in the country.
As we left the farm, just outside of the main gates, Zoe spotted something and yelled "look Daddy!". This is what we saw. Only 2 weeks old and just as curious about the world as my daughter.
What kinds of experiences have your kids had on a farm, or somewhere in nature that you hope gives them memories for a lifetime? I'd love to hear them.