Nature Walk

We finally have snow in Boise! It is glorious, and yes we have been skiing already! But for a long time, we had cold but no snow. We had an inversion for days that felt as if they dragged into weeks. For those of you who don’t know, an inversion is where the cold air gets trapped under a layer of warm air, and if the weather doesn’t change, it can get stuck like that for days. We are particularly susceptible to it in the Treasure Valley.  As the pollutants can’t rise up into the atmosphere, the air quality can get bad, and on the valley floor we are stuck under a heavy blanket of fog and cloud. The sun refuses to penetrate. It is miserable.

We weren’t getting out nearly as much as normal and I realized that I was going to have to be more intentional about finding our outdoor time, because it wasn’t flowing into parts of our day as easily as it does in other seasons, or even in the crisp snowy days of winter.  The boys didn’t run into the garden when we arrived home after a car ride, and we didn’t linger after school playing with friends.

So one afternoon when the temperature had moved maybe one degree higher than the low when we woke up, and when it felt as if it was already bedtime at 3.30, I dragged the boys out.  It wasn’t particularly easy, their attitudes were mirroring the miserable, stuffy weather.  We grabbed buckets and went on a nature walk to see what we could find.

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I had formulated a very rough plan that we might use the items to make a collage or Christmas gifts.  All I knew for sure was we had to get outside for a bit to break up the monotony and fighting that we had looped into, and I guessed that we wouldn’t be out for long and so we would need an activity to transition to when we got home.

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At first the boys weren’t that enamored with the idea, and we didn’t go far, we didn’t even venture off the sidewalk. Pretty soon they started spotting ‘treasures’ however, and their attitude transformed. There wasn’t much to see looking up into the sky, and so they were happy to keep their heads down and hunt for items to add to their buckets.  Stones, sticks, pine cones, bits of half dead plants.  All of a sudden these became precious objects. We ended at a local pond where the boys were fascinated to find the water had frozen.  We spent quite a lot of time throwing rocks at the ice.

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When we arrived home the boys took their treasures to the dining table, where some half painted Christmas gifts were still laid out, along with the paint.  Before I had finished hanging up jackets and hats and gloves, they were busy painting everything they found white.  I watched, bemused, at this new addition to our activity.  They were quiet, concentrating on painting between leaves, all around rocks, inside pine cones.  And so I left them to it, and had a cup of coffee!

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I was so pleased we decided to venture out, despite the dismal day. And I’m also glad I let the boys take charge of the activity when we got home, otherwise I would never have ended up with this beautiful piece for my kitchen wall! Because sometimes, when you make art to give away, you have to keep some for yourself!

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