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Fine Arts Friday: A place to know

*Yes, this is technically not Friday. Stuff happened and Friday got away from me, but I have a theme and I’m sticking with it.

We have been sorely remiss in our nature studies because A. it’s too dang hot and B. . . .  No, actually just A. We did do some nature-y stuff on vacation. We went to the beach, which is nature in a big, overwhelming way, and we went to the nature center at Gulf State Park. The docent there was very helpful and friendly. He let the kids (minus Sprite) hold a snake and answered tons of questions. We also met the center mascot, Homer.

I think Homer was describing the exhibits to Bulldozer. Or he was taunting the creatures who were stuck behind the glass.

But while it’s good to see new and exciting natural venues, it’s far more important for children to have a piece of nature close to home that they can call their own. They need a place that they can explore and become friends with. And that means regular visits to a specific corner of the woods (or desert or whatever wild place your area contains.) I’ve been neglecting our regular, “get out into nature” routine. The kids have been spending a good deal of time outside in the neighborhood, and of course, we hassled the bunnies who nested in my garden. But we weren’t visiting our place. We weren’t nature-studying in the spend time exploring, journaling, and just being all nature-fied. So I figured it was about time we (meaning I) got off our (meaning my) duff and back into the wild. Or as wild as suburban North Texas gets.

“Our place” when it comes to naturing (new word!) is a nature preserve about five minutes from our house. It’s 200 acres bordered by residential areas, so is definitely nature, but still, it’s in the middle of suburbia. It has very well tended trails, both paved and unpaved, decent bathrooms, playgrounds, pavilions, an amphitheater, and a huge tower overlooking the whole park. It’s kinda swank for a nature preserve, is what I’m saying. And sometimes when we’re naturing, it doesn’t feel very wild, partly because it’s so popular. Honestly, it’s hard to feel “in the wild” when the 20-plus mom’s stroller workout group is passing you on the six feet wide concrete path, or when a huge entourage is one field over for quinceanera pictures. But through diligent exploring, we’ve found an off-the-beaten-path, seldom-visited place that we call ours.

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This is not simply because of our many careless or casual habits but is a temporary cialis viagra online treatment for ED. The active drug Tadalafil inhibits a specific enzyme called phosphodiesterase type five (PDE5). cialis free shipping The dynamic fixing in Kamagra is Sildenafil Citrate. online viagra india http://www.devensec.com/maps/devens_water_res_map.pdf The effect of discount levitra also lasts for five hours. Off a side entrance, winding through and past a hidden pavilion, and down into a ravine, at the far edge of the park, there’s a bridge over the tree-shaded creek. While not a total secret, it definitely doesn’t get the foot traffic the rest of the park gets. We only saw three small groups today in the hour and a half we were there. For whatever reason, we hadn’t been back to “our” place since last fall. I wish we had gone just after all the rain because we definitely saw some signs that the water was impressively high. One nice change is that they replaced the bridge that had been some Scout’s Eagle project. While it was a nice-looking bridge, the “one-person-at-a-time-and-cross-at-your-own-risk” sign was a little off-putting. I prefer my bridges come without warning signs.

While we occasionally hike, the kids and I prefer to hang out by the creek and keep our explorations to a smaller area.  And even though we’re in the same smallish space, we’re all in our own worlds. Sprite tends to just sit, soak in the beauty, and pet Jack. Little Miss draws in her journal. The boys throw both stones in the creek and chase every creature they see, but Bulldozer documents his discoveries while Satchmo just works on producing a bigger splash. They managed to catch a few tiny frogs and even saw one lose its tail. They may have been the immediate cause of the tail losing. I do a little of everything–except for the frog bit. But mostly, like Sprite, I just like to sit and be there.

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Looking up into the canopy, I realized how important these visits to this place are. It’s important not just to teach my children about the natural world, but to give them a piece of that world that they can know and love. I don’t have to teach that love, it’s a natural outflowing of the knowing. But I do have to facilitate the meeting. I have to put nature time on our schedule and guard that time, as strongly as I guard time for math or history. I have to give them a place.

And more than just the physical place, I need to carve out a place in our time and resources. I need to provide tools they need to understand their place, like the butterfly guide that helped us identify the giant swallowtail that danced above our heads all morning. I’m no naturalist and can’t answer all their “what is it” and “how does it” questions, but I take time and effort to help them find those answers later. But I must prioritize providing a place in nature and for nature in their lives. And hopefully, they’ll carry their love and knowledge of this place into a love for the whole natural world.

Do you have a place in nature that you call your own? How often do you visit it?

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