Have you heard the sound of lake ice cracking? It's a sound that sweeps in the air around you like the aurora borealis is light that sweeps across the sky above. The sound of the ice cracking is eerie and changes as it moves across the lake. It's a loud noise but you can't quite place where it is, and sometimes feels like it is behind you or on either side of you and not on the lake at all.
Like Erv, my father loved the outdoors. He was a man of few words, a tough man with a tender spot for wildflowers.
These two men were big influences on my life. When I became a parent, I began to think about what I would do with my children when they were very young. In my blood, in my bones, in my heart, I wanted them to spend their childhoods outside, not inside a school building all day.
I felt like I found a friend when I read Charlotte Mason's ideas about early childhood and the outdoors:
It would be well if we all persons in authority, parents and all who act for parents, could make up our minds that there is no sort of knowledge to be got in these early years so valuable to children as that which they get for themselves of the world they live in. Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life. We were all meant to be naturalists, each in his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.
The goal I had in the early years was to instill a sense of awe about nature, to love it, and to delight in its changes.
It does require time, though.
Top: We visited Stephen Foster Lake, Mt. Pisgah State Park, Pennsylvania while on a road trip. As we walked around the park in the early morning, the kids thought they heard bears roaring around us. It was the sound of the ice cracking on the lake.
Middle: A medley of wildflowers I drew while sitting in an NYC park called the High Line. The park was created on top of an abandoned stretch of an elevated freight railroad.
Bottom: We spent Christmas Day a couple of years ago hiking by a waterfall in Letchworth State Park in western New York, but we couldn't hike far on the paths because the paths were covered with ice. And, ice chunks fell off the trees - the chunks hurt if they hit you on the head! The photo is of the ice that fell from the trees. Can you guess why the ice looks that way? The trees were near a waterfall and the water was full of sediment. The water sprayed from the force of the waterfall and fell on the trees. As the brown water froze, it made an impression of each leaf. Since the temperature was right around freezing, the ice chunks slid off the leaves...on top of our heads.
Wonder is the beginning of wisdom ~ Socrates.