We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Mar 14, 2007

On Nature and Our Move

While walking back from the pool the other day we walked by a school yard, one we pass by on most of our walks. It was one of the first outside days and one of the young teachers had taken advantage of this to bring her class outside for some project. It was obviously a special deal since all of the kids were having a hard time doing their work. What I though was telling was that most of the children chose to position themselves along the fence looking out at the rest of the world.

It made me think more about how I want to bring up Alder to love being outside but never to have to ration it. I imagine some of these kids haven't been outside, except at recess since autumn. I had this great image of a six or seven year old Alder reading a book sitting on a porch. Since it has been so snowy this year there has been less outside days in Denver (something that there are usually plenty) the children were all ghostly and probably won't regain their color until May.

Even then many of these kids will have maybe a week or two off before going to summer camps where most of their time is spent in the same class rooms. It is no wonder that children today do not feel a connection to the natural world. How can they when their only interactions with it are canned and curriculum driven?

As a child I was lucky my family would spend most weekends leaving the city and going to a cabin in the "country" most days I would wake up before my parents and head outside. It wasn't just our yard or property that I wandered on. I would go for miles and mile of regrown pastures. There was a river with the ruins of old mills, streams, a series of cliffs and plenty of imagined worlds. I would come home in time for lunch scratched up and hungry. No sooner was the meal done than I would be back out the door, unless we had something planned.

These weekends and summers of wandering helped me to survive another week in school. Sundays were always difficult, I still can't stand to hear Marion McPartland's Piano Jazz show because it was always the background to the start of our trip home. During those long drives home I would transform from the happy strong wandering soul to my week day self. But there was never any point in complaining, none of us wanted to go back to the city but grownup responsibilities made us return.

Now that I have my own son I am in the position to help cultivate his love of the outdoors. This becomes an interesting question when I think about where we are moving. There are many things that I want for myself and family that a city can provide, including less car time. But the distance from nature is not something want, nor could either I or Kevin handle.

There are obviously other constraints: feasibility for an acupuncture practice, proximity to my family, cost of living. When you add this to our love of hiking and being on the river our options begin to narrow. So we are down to five particular places and one more general region.

Hudson NY

Saratoga Springs NY
Brattleboro VT
Bennington VT
Pittsfield MA
and the general Hudson River Valley in NY

Of these places Pittsfield is the least attractive, but it is also the most affordable. Saratoga and Brattleboro are the most interesting but Saratoga is pricy. In the end we will end up weeding out the ones that aren't feasible and then going with what seems like a place that we will feel the most comfortable, and that will not be anything quantifiable.

What a process.


The Grocer said...

Stacy, don't skimp, remeber location, location, location. We bought our house because of the great views over open countryside and easy access to the Northumberland Beaches. We just about keep our heads above water since I left work and bought my business and we might struggle once the twins arrive but we will stay here because it is a decent place to bring up the kids.

Ellen said...

I just moved to Saratoga Springs, NY last week. I moved from L.A., so this is a big adjustment for us.
I do live within walking distance of everything and love that. Looking forward to exploring parks after the snow finally melts.
I do think I am going to enjoy my less-driving, more walking lifestyle.