We are so used to people referring to a sunny day as, “beautiful,” and a rainy day as, “yucky,” it is no wonder children pick up these judgments without even thinking about it! But, like most things, we can re-frame for ourselves and for children. Today was our first day of a new session of Woods and Wetlands with an almost entirely new group of explorers and scientists. It was a wet day, no doubt. It was also a cloudy day, but the day held potential just like any other. It is not our outer circumstances that must always define us or our day. It is what we bring to it, who we are, and how we decide to show up that determines our reality. So, today I decided we would brave the rain and go enjoy the woods and swamp.
My hope was that all of the kids would be dressed for the weather. After all, the forecast was available with enough notice to wear layers and bring something waterproof. But we all forget things or are in a rush and don’t always find what we need. Most of the kids were well equipped with rain boots, and everyone had on either a raincoat, water-resistant coat, or a poncho. A few were dressed warmly enough in layers beneath their coats or ponchos. Most of us, including me, forgot gloves so we did have cold hands after a while.
While the rain came down the kids ran for the woods and carefully picked or slid their way down the hill to our meeting area. We had already gone over basic safety and rules inside so they were set to go exploring upon arrival. One group ran for the wild apple tree and the boardwalk. Another headed for the swamp. The swamp was filling up with rain and most of the muck from last week had been submerged.
One of the older kids began building a bridge through a mucky area and included strong sticks stuck firmly with one end in the ground so that anyone walking through could hold on to them for balance support. It was pretty great engineering and the first time I have seen anyone try that strategy.
We visited the Fairy Tree, of course, and this time the young lady who named it two years ago was out there with us! It amuses me that all of the kids now call it, “The Fairy Tree,” but most of them don’t know why or who named it. S. called it that when we began our Firsts in the Forest program and the name stuck.
The swamp was gorgeous in the rain with the reds, yellows, and oranges of leaves standing out against the gray of the weather. C. noticed a bright, red branch and asked what it was, remembering a similar branch at his house that had sharp prickles on it. I assured him that this was red osier dogwood and did not have prickles.
A small group of kids who weren’t dressed as warmly as they will be in the future huddled together under an umbrella while sitting on a poncho. I peered underneath to find them happily snuggled up and giggling.
We did get a bit cold toward the end and those who slipped in the swamp were a bit wetter than they wanted to be, but we still had so much fun and have definitely learned some lessons for the next time!
It was a beautiful, rainy day.