Yesterday we had a snow day from school, but that is no reason to cancel Woods and Wetlands! If anything, it made for an even more magical experience. We were able to meet earlier and though it was a tiny group, only 3 explorers, we had a lovely time.
Breaking trail through new snow brings such a feeling of childhood to me and it seems completely normal to drop down and crawl through tiny openings between low branches, imagining we are little, furry animals in this wonderland. I love and recognize the feel of being all insulated in snow pants, puffy coats, warm mittens and protective hats while the snow falls on our eyelashes and our cheeks get pink.
The kids notice all kinds of details and features of the woods and swamp that they haven’t seen before. The girls haven’t been out there with me since last year and their voices continually brim with joy as they call out to each other and to me, “Remember when…!?” And I am warmed by the memories they share. I realize that some of those memories would have been lost to me if it weren’t for these verbalized recollections. I also remember things that they do not, and between us, we rebuild some of those connections.
It is an effort to remember to pull out my phone to capture some of this beauty because I just want to soak it in and be fully present. But I also love to share as much of it as possible with parents and others who enjoy these journeys.
We stayed toasty warm until the end when our toes began to get a bit cold and we found ourselves nicely tired out as we trudged back through the deepening snow to meet their parents. I remembered dragging through snow behind my big sister as she broke trail for both of us throughout our childhood winters. I glanced behind me to see O. and S. beaming at me, tired out but so happy, and B. found a burst of energy to run ahead, weaving his way through our half-filled tracks and creating new ones.
Tracks in the fresh snow, like memories made and as they fill again, half forgotten, always with the opportunity to get out there and make new ones all over again.
I am an and outdoor educator with a master's in early childhood development. I taught elementary school for 20 years and now own Woods and Wetlands LLC, offering programs for local children to engage in nature study through play and exploration-based learning. My programs are all outdoors in whatever "wild" spaces are available. I live in Rockford, Michigan with my husband, dog, and three cats. My unique, therapeutic, one and a half hour programs help children to connect with the natural world and with themselves.
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