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"

Oct 4, 2008

Learning from each other

Finding the trail

The other day Alder and I went for a hike in a near by state park. As we followed the short trail Alder and I made a game of finding the trail markers, every tree that had a dash of blue paint he would go up to and point out. We followed only the blue ones, leaving the gray ones when they were no longer on the same trees (the gray trail went off another direction). It was a fun game that lasted the entire mile of the short loop trail but it was much more than that too. Alder is learning an important skill in our lives. We go hiking a lot so knowing how to follow trail markers is important. Perhaps it the Jewish mother in me coming out but I do have nightmares (the awake variety) of loosing Alder in the woods.

But showing him how to find the trail is more than teaching him an important safety skill it is a way to include him in something that we do together as a family. Until now he had always either ridden in the backpack or just stomped through the woods finding pine cones and "nut-corns" (acorns) but the other day he was aware of the "nut-corns" as well as the painted markings. He would run from tree to tree, still stopping to explore the undergrowth but excited at each painted mark he found. Even today as we uploaded the pictures he pointed to this one as said paint.

At the time that I showed him the paint marks it was more of an after thought, something I did to quell my own imagination, but as we hiked on I realized that showing him the trail markers was a way of sharing something I loved with him, introducing him to my world, the same way that giving him small balls of yarn and some knitting needles to play with while I'm knitting includes him. He watches us and knows when we care about something, these are the things that he tries to join in. Some days I catch him standing in the same position Kevin does he standing meditation, quietly looking at the world around him.

But he isn't just a little mimic, there are so many activities I would have never thought of doing if it wasn't for him. I catch myself walking on the raised edges of sidewalks when I am walking to work alone, or counting motorcycles as I pass them in the car, these are his activities that I have now adopted. He has also taught me to slow down (a process that was begun by our cat five years ago) some day we don't leave the house. He can find hours of things to do in these five rooms. Or we may take an hour to walk six blocks, not because we are talking to others but because there is so much to explore, walls to walk on, slugs to follow as they make their way across the sidewalk, puddles to jump in until they no longer have any water left, and cats to watch as they stalk birds.

So while I am bringing him into my world he is doing same for me.


The Grocer said...

I loved this post Stacey. My wife and I were just talking last night about slowing down and expecting less from days as a way of avoiding frustration of not "achieving" anything. I'm going to get her to read this.

meredithwinn said...

this is wonderful stacey.

Christy said...

Kids are good at teaching us to slow down. I'll admit sometimes I get impatient with it though. Still so much to learn.