Spring has finally arrived in New England. Many of us have been indoors far too long—avoiding the perils of icy sidewalks or muddy trails and puddles. Two weeks ago I heard the song birds just before the dawn.
Those of us who have a home office are freed from commuter traffic, but may also spend more time on the telephone or computer. I’m fortunate to have windows on the east, south, and west in my office. It’s flooded with light during the day whether it’s raining, snowing, gray, or shining brightly as it is today.
Some people even feel spring even in one’s insides. It can almost feel like a force. While it’s tempting to respond to the urge to clear out closets, to make the switch from winter to spring/summer clothes, or do that spring cleaning and toss those stacks of accumulating papers, just stop. Go outdoors.
If you haven’t already explored your neighborhood or driven to some state park or walked in the woods, this NPR news article may provide you many reasons to be out into nature. In the article, the author, Adam Frank, points out that in our hectic, competitive, and stressful world “Joseph Campbell, the great scholar of religion, hit the core of our problem when he wrote, ‘People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.'” Frank offers suggestions for refining “the capacity to notice” everywhere and every when.
The first step may be as small as just opening the door and venturing outside. In my case, it’s a sliding glass door that goes into the back yard. My dogs bound out in front of me hoping I will start throwing balls for them to fetch. But my eyes immediately are drawn today to the lush flaming orange-pink shrub next to the children’s playhouse. It’s my flowering quince now in full bloom beckoning me to come closer and admire its abundant display.
After a very harsh winter followed by a raw and muddy March, our spring has come very quickly—actually, in a matter of days. Usually, we have forsythia and nothing else but for weeks. Even the snowdrops and crocus seemed to take their time to push through the earth. But today it feels like instant spring. Besides the forsythia and quince, we also have daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, a rhododendron, and pieris blooming.
The trees which normally don’t leaf out until May have suddenly burst out and a canopy of bright Irish green is unfolding. Soon we won’t be able to see into the woods while driving along the highways.
Whether you want to start gardening or take walks in the woods or on the beach, our Make Way for Reading, Great Books for Kindergarten Through Grade 8 has many books on outdoor activities to help parents engage themselves and children in the natural world. Here are some samples:
Picture books—A Day in the Garden and The Dandelion’s Cousin or some of Tasha Tudor’s books.
A family resource—The Nature Connection, An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms
Then you can round out April’s “Poetry Month” with Sharing the Seasons, A Book of Poems.