It’s been cold and wintery around here, but today was one of those perfect autumn days that are so beautiful that it almost takes your breath away. Well, mine anyway. I had to take dh to the train at noon, and as I got into my van, I happened to look up the street and see the incredibly striking yellow and scarlet leaves on the trees against the clear blue sky – it’s one of those sights that could be made into a picture. I love the autumn. As soon as I got back home, I told the kids to stop what they were doing so we could head to the arboretum to enjoy the day.
I’ve only once taken my kids to the arboretum and that was two years ago, despite a really nice one very close by. My kids loved it and at that time, I wanted to make it a weekly outing and have the kids bring their nature notebooks to sketch the changes in the trees and plants they saw, ala Charlotte Mason. Well, it never happened – it was a nice idea but somehow having to go out to see the trees and flowers was unappealing to me every time the kids reminded me of my idea.
Until today. No, we didn’t bring notebooks, just ourselves. There’s something powerful about taking kids into nature – different from playing in the typical backyard. It awakens the senses in a way that’s hard to explain, and everyone becomes so relaxed and happy. Even the baby stopped fussing and just looked around with wide eyes up into the sky and at the trees above.
As I was watching them run all over, I thought about how lucky we are that we can take advantage of a day like this on the spur of the moment. By the time most kids are home, the day is almost gone. By tomorrow or the weekend, who’s to say the weather will still be like this?
Except for us it was almost empty, which is something I’ve always found a hidden benefit of homeschooling. We regularly get to go to places when it’s off season, quiet and no crowds to battle! It’s so much more relaxing for me to be out with the kids when I don’t have to be hyperalert every minute about who is where. It’s not only a big bonus to me, it’s a big bonus to my kids since it means they get to go on lots more trips than they would if they had to go during the hours everyone else is there.