Go outside and play


From the time I was old enough to remember my mother used to tell the three of us to got outside and play. I’m not saying that we didn’t watch TV or play a friends houses but most of the time we were home together (being military we moved a lot) and mom home schooled all of us through the 8th grade.

Over the years a bond developed between myself and the outdoors. Early on it was place filled with wonder, epic adventure and amazing creatures. I vividly remember standing in the middle of a frozen pond (don’t do that!) and at the front of a bee hive as they buzzed so close I could feel the air move with their wings, catching a toad so big he filled my entire bucket.

Later in high school when we moved to the south, I used to go on several hour walks by myself in our rural neighborhood. I would follow deer paths and listen to the sounds that rose to the forefront in the absence of man-made ones. I learned to be quiet and watch for movement on the ground and in the trees. I was rewarded richly by lizards sunning, birds singing and deer momentarily caught off guard.

This quiet communion with nature would become a life long mission to seek out quiet places and be quiet. In college I studied in graveyards because no one was there and the trees were lovely. My friends and I made a point of finding local natural beaches and claiming them for ourselves.

To this day when I think of Florida, I see a meadow of saw-grass blowing in the breeze, oyster beds sticking up out of the mud and a legion of fiddler crabs scurrying from my feet. I see the cypress rising out of the swamp like a prehistoric icon, spanish moss still in the heat, and alligators resting in the sun, almost smiling. Lime rock roads stretching back into the oaks, wild magnolia grown so tall you can’t see the blossoms.

I wish all children had a safe place to “go outside and play,” not just a back yard but a place to discover, get lost, learn to trust themselves and explore.  If we never see a sparrow chase a hawk from its nest, how will we know to be brave? Or watch a snail arduously make his way, that we can overcome. See the single flower in a field and know that difference is what makes us beautiful. If we never touch the world because its dirty, how will we know the richness beneath our feet?


9 responses »

  1. As I read this…I traveled through my memories…childhood, adolescent, and young adult years…thinking of how nature was always there and powerful in my life. Just another reminder..that I’ve never been alone!

  2. I tend to lose my mind momentarily when I’m alone with nature … I was nearly in the same state while readin this … very positive indeed…

    oh did think of a film somewhere in between … it’s called “Bridge to Terabithia” … I’m not sure if u have seen it … 🙂

  3. I love your final sentence. I miss the days of getting dirty and not minding, when there was no such thing as to-go hand sanitizer, just good oldfashioned soap and water.

    I too love graveyards for their peacefulness, and beaches for their energy. But I am not a fan of fiddler crabs or oysters, the one time Evie tried taking me to a natural beach, I freaked out with the crabs scurring underfoot, and cringed at the popping noise when we accidently tred on one. And swimming was no easy task with the oysters in the mud to cut our feet on.

  4. I always told my son to go play outside too. He and his cousins would go trespassing back in the cow pasture and explore. Now, it’s my pasture, and I love to spend time back there away from people and the world.

  5. Your words are so powerful. You wrote what “home” is in my heart, as I saw the places I grew up and then the places I grew into as I got away from kith and kin and started trying out my own wings. The place I live now is a little like that, if you trade the Spanish moss for vines and orchids in the trees. Peace slips into our soul a little at a time in places that wild and free. We learn to find our own rhythms outside.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s