Sunday, November 27, 2011

Let's Try This Again

There is a wooden sign for this park, but it's way up by a busy street and I just didn't have the spirit for it after we'd already had to visit this park twice. So, this one along the bike trail will suffice.

We actually had to visit this park twice before we got it right. The first time we arrived, I realized I didn't have my camera. But once we were all out of the car, I sure wasn't going home to get it. These pictures, obviously then, are of our second visit to Pasley Park and the Helen Pasley Nature Conservation Area.

The drive home from picking the big kids up from school is Fletcher's most frequent naptime of choice and this day was no exception. So, I simply opened the car door so he'd have some fresh air and so that I'd hear him when he woke up.

The others wasted no time getting back to the playground they had enjoyed the day before.

This girl is so her mother's daughter. This totally would have been me when I was little. My parents would have told me to go play outside and I simply would have gone to read outside. It's such a thrill to see her loving books and seeing the ease with which she is picking up this skill.

Grier is not so sure about these slides anymore.

She does still love the swings, though.

And who doesn't?

On our first visit to this park, the visit without the camera, I decided not to bother walking down the bike trail for the Helen Pasley Nature Conservation Area sign. Instead, I promised the kids a fantastic adventure if they'd be agreeable about visiting the same park twice. And I think they'd agree that it was well worth the second trip.

There was freshly planted grass that I didn't want to trample, so the kids just sat on this bench with the sign in the background.

Then we kept walking to where the true adventure awaited.

When I was little and we'd ride the bike trails, this was always one of my favorite spots. First of all, the bridge is bumpy and makes a great noise as you ride over it. Second of all, there's a fantastic hill that lets you really build up speed right after the bridge. And finally, we'd usually stop to throw rocks in the river and my dad was a rock skipping master. We were pretty sure it was magic of some sort to be able to make a rock do that. Now, I'm sure, it was probably just all of his years playing with his brother and neighborhood friends along the river in their neighborhood. : )

They just had to stop at this tree to collect some leaves. It really was gorgeous.

And it just wouldn't be a worthwhile walk along the bike trails without throwing rocks in the river.

And I'm kicking myself for waiting an entire month to actually write about this visit because I know there was some kind of story about a "war" or something with these geese, but for the life of me, I cannot remember it.

Don't worry. I didn't let them torment the geese or anything.

Ever since reading the book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, I have been particularly conscious of wanting my children to play freely outdoors as much as possible. The author, Richard Louv, makes it very clear that "Nature Deficit Disorder" is not a true medical diagnosis of any kind, but rather a description, if you will, of how costly a child's lack of connection to the natural world is. He presents research that shows how important the natural world is to healthy child development and how exposure to nature can be an effective piece of therapy for depression, obesity, and ADHD. Anyway...I digress. Whether or not you can see the connection to those problems, would anybody really argue that playing a video game will make a child more creative than playing in the woods? My kids have the rest of their lives to choose to watch television and play video games. For as long as I'm in charge of their days (or until it's 30 below outside), I want them to play creatively and make memories that will bind them together as siblings forever. And, I even have anecdotal evidence that would fit this author's theories nicely. In all of our seventy-some park visits, if you asked my kids which ones were their favorites, I promise you, they would tell you about the ones where we hiked, played in the woods, and explored by the river. Unless we're meeting up with friends we haven't seen in a long time, they're actually quite tired of playground equipment. Next summer, since I'm still determined that we will have seen all of the parks by then and will know which ones are best, we are going to focus on the spots that allow my kids to explore and play in as natural an environment as possible and with as little adult supervision as possible.

Whew! Stepping down off my soapbox now just to let you know that while the walk to the bridge whizzed by with the anticipation of adventure, the walk back to the car was not as pleasant. Luckily, I had used the Moby wrap as a make-shift blanket for Grier in the stroller, so when Fletcher's energy and cooperative attitude waned, I was able to wear Grier and strap Fletch into the stroller. All in all, the kids would definitely put this place on our "parks to visit again" list.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy reading this and it's great that you encourage your children to do outdoor activities and to interact with the natural world. I strongly believe in this, too, and, as a matter of fact, I've established a nonprofit organization, Deaf Youth Outdoor Leadership. For the past few years, my colleagues and I have organized backpacking trips for deaf youths and, as we witnessed, they actually learned a lot and grew to appreciate the natural world. They eventually wanted to do more and they were so hungry for learning. :)

    Glad to see that all is well.