Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Limitless Adventure In The Outdoors

It's a balmy fifty-seven degrees here in Muncie today. It felt like the Pacific Northwest. Temperate and calm. The clouds were low, the mist fell heavily and the air was rich with the smell of Winter. I loved it.

With the warmth, I decided we'd play outside as much as possible today. I swept leaves off the back porch and Lucas ran amok in our small little yard area. I ended up shedding my jacket and spied Lucas' little red mittens sitting in the chair, rather than on his hands. Clearly, we were both feeling the warmth of being active.

After finishing my chore, I made another cup of coffee and watched Lucas throw things into the lake we live near. I sat on a log while the kiddo was adventurous along the shoreline. He crawled under twigs and bushes (as there are no more leaves) and over logs. He avoided getting his feet wet in the water and managed to make his way from one path to the next, calling it "an adventure" and screaming out "I made it!!"

It is a beautiful thing, to play outside. I have a friend who very much values the concept of being outdoors and before meeting her, I always knew it was important but never knew another who really took it to heart like she does. After meeting Jenny, it's been something I make note of more often... read more about... and observe my child benefiting from.

There are layers of benefit from being outside.

Anyone who is an adult can recall some of their favorite memories involving the outdoors; camping, picnics, boating, cabins, horseback riding, hunting. I know my sweetest memories include friends, family and my sister... all being outside. These fond memories give us a sense of belonging, and that is special.

Adventure. It's something we all want a little bit of. Being outdoors challenges our minds (problem solving) and our bodies (climbing, crawling...). When we face adventure and succeed, the boost in our self-esteem rockets. Who wouldn't want that for their own child? Almost anyone can succeed outside.

Being outside enables us to be aware of our world and our environment we live in. Right now I could ask the kiddo what the weather is like and he would say: misty, cool, overcast, and breezy. He knows what the dirt smells like in our backyard, what the ducks sound like, how the trees feel as he climbs around them and what the sky looks like above us. Being aware of our surroundings is vital to survival, security and well-being.

For those of us who need to blow off steam, being outdoors allows just that. Often the day provides moments of frustration, limitations, boundaries and the word "no." Being outdoors allows us to be limitless, free, and feeling like anything is possible. It's beautiful when we can free our minds from the worries of life and appreciate the wind, the birds, the air. We can appreciate life and our world around us. We can let go. Kids need to let go too.

After foraging in the bushes and such, we walked to the park to play a little bit more. We collected pine cones and meandered. We discussed the ducks and the Canadian Geese.. and why they poop so much. The conversation was very enlightening.

Lucas played outside a bit longer, only to be interrupted by management of our complex. I was told he could not play by the water any longer, as it was dangerous. It was comical, really. The water is quite shallow. It's a true shame that some cannot appreciate the adventurous heart of a child, and yet I could not argue with someone who was probably worried about liabilities and lawsuits.

That's okay, though. We had already played for a couple hours. The beauty of playing outside when it's chilly is coming in and snuggling up with cocoa and a hot bath. The cozy feeling of being exhausted and knowing that an adventurous little boy is going to sleep well tonight!

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