My late husband loved nature. He was an avid hunter. He loved to fish. If he got stressed with work or needed alone time, he headed directly to the mountains. It was his happy place. It is NOT my happy place. But our kids seemed to have inherited his love of the outdoors. As soon as they could walk, he would slowly take them down to the creek near our home. Many Saturday mornings (when it wasn’t hunting season) he would take Ella and Hunter to the creek or up to the mountains where he would spend hours hunting. Just two weeks prior to his death, he had taken them up to the mountains for a hike and to shoot their BB Guns. It is a memory my daughter holds very close to her heart.
I try my best to keep this love of nature alive in our family. Unfortunately my children really haven’t been exposed to what they would have been if my husband was with us today. They know how to fish to a point. They know about animals from their tracks to what they eat and their habits. They have not been exposed to hunting and only have a vague memory of how it was such a huge part of our life at one point. I mean my wedding and honeymoon were planned around hunting season! Their births were planned around hunting season too!
So how do I keep this love of nature alive in our family especially when I am not a huge van? Besides relying on my in-laws to expose them to the great outdoors, I will venture to a local state park as well as head down to the creek near our home a few times throughout the year. I put on my big girl pants and suck it all up for them! I suck up the smell. I suck up the bugs. I suck up the dirt. I suck up rodents we come across. I suck it all up because my kids love it!
Yesterday I decided I had put off heading to a local state park long enough. My gosh it is literally 15 minutes away and it is pretty beautiful. It is smelly, buggy, and filled with all things nature lovers love! So we packed a lunch, put on old shoes, bathing suits, and even brought the dog (oh I despise wet dirty dogs) and jumped in the van and headed to the state park. The kids were so excited! They knew exactly which path to take and we started looking for a good spot near the creek so they could get in and just start exploring the water. As we are about to head down the one path, Hunter noticed some rustling in the bushes. There I am thinking to myself “Oh s#*^! What is it and what am I going to do?” We look over and there are 2 adorable baby raccoons. Ummmm…aren’t raccoons nocturnal? We look as they scurry off.
I figure cool excitement for the day. We lay down a blanket near the bank of the creek and they head into the creek. Mazy and I sit on the blanket to watch and relax. Then a few minutes later Ella yells out “Mom the raccoons are here!” They are all excited and are not afraid at all. They watch them and the only one of my kids to even be remotely concern is Hunter. I decide I will take the dog down into the water and snap a few pictures. Well this is where the fun began!
These cute little buggers decided to hang out and they decided to head over to our blanket and start drinking the dog’s water from a pouch I had sitting out. Hunter grabbed what was important~ THE FOOD and later the other bag with towels in it. He stood far away. I stood on a rock with the dog in the middle of the creek. The girls weren’t scared at all! These little adorable things decided they wanted the pouch and actually took it and climbed up a tree with it! I’m standing in the creek laughing because this would only happen to me! Hunter was ready to go but the girls were able to convince him to stay after we headed to another area.
As I think about all of this, I can’t help but laugh. As much as dread being one with nature, it was a pretty cool experience and the kids are still talking about it!