Nyana came to me today, in that dead hour between Daniel Tiger’s Neigbourhood and lunchtime, and said to me, “Mama, you go outside for do a nature walk with meeeeeee?” My heart melted. I was wearing sweatpants and finishing my second coffee and secretly praying for an inside day and a third cuppa joe, but she has this adorably cute inflection that makes the end of her sentences raise half an octave, and the begging look in her big blue eyes made it hard to say no.
It’s not easy to keep a two year old entertained in a small suburban apartment. We survived the winter cooped up indoors with a toddler and a newborn, so as the sun becomes more social with us, we’ve been enjoying the freedom of the outdoors as often as we can. We try to get Nyana to the park as often as possible, but on days when the playground is just a bit too far away or the weather is a bit too crappy, I dress Nyana in her outdoor gear, give her a bucket, and take her out for an hour on a quote unquote nature walk. It started one day with an overtired Ny needing something to keep her occupied until dinner, and an exasperated me with no better idea than to let her bring her sand bucket with us on a walk around the apartment complex. The subsequent “nature walks” that have resulted from that one desperate moment have been nothing short of awesome, and they’re moments I look forward to and treasure.
They involve nothing more than Nyana, a bucket, and the great outdoors. She collects pinecones, leaves, berries, rocks, twigs, tree bark, ants, flowers, stones, moss, sand, mud, you name it. We examine spider webs and puddles and rotted out tree stumps and the parking garage. We try to collect five maple leaves, or we look for as many yellow flowers as we can find, or we decide that we can’t go home until we have two very fine sticks for Daddy. Sometimes we climb stairs and sometimes we slide down hills and sometimes we just go ’round the building a few times until it’s nap time. But every time, we come home with a full bucket, and every time we leave for a new walk we dump our full bucket by the back door and start again.
I know that right now, it’s nothing more than something to do for an hour; something that keeps her occupied and keeps me somewhat sane. But I like to think that if these nature walks continue, they will become memories that she might enjoy looking back on as much as I do.