Nature Study When Your Family Culture Dramatically Changes

 

The rich, ripe goldens and russets have bedecked our trees, reminding us that it’s time to get out on as many nature walks and family hikes as we can before the bitter cold.  We live in Minnesota, and the seasons are gorgeous, but the temperatures can be cruel, so we’re seizing every opportunity.

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We really began nature study in earnest about two years ago.  At the time, I was just seeking for something—anything to get my boys outside while I was pregnant with our delightful Jubilee.  I didn’t realize what a treasure nature study would be for our family.  Studying the infinitesimally small bits of wonder that our God created has become a holy act.  The same God that daily paints the sky in the morning and evening is the same God who created Japanese beetles, the veins in leaves, the instinctual patterns of beavers and hedgehogs, the smell of sauteing onions, the taste of a peppermint leaf, the shrill whistle of grass when held just right and blown on.  Finding these small bits of creation to enjoy and appreciate has become a holy ritual, a calming pattern.

And now we have a child who has never experienced many of the things we just DO as a family.  Who is scared of new experiences and sensations.  Who expresses rage and fear at what our other children delight in.  It’s thrown our family for a bit of a loop.  We knew we would have to make adjustments, but we didn’t expect our son’s transition to cut so deeply to the core of who we are as a family and what we appreciate.  For now, we’re easing him in to nature and allowing him to be a passive bystander in many cases.  There are days where he will touch new objects like sticks or pinecones.  And there are days where dirt and leaves terrify him, or he is angry that we would dare to have him play outside.  Tidiness has been trained into him thoroughly, and so our boys’ messy, raucous, and creative play is an outrage to our new son.  And that is completely okay. But it’s hard.

We know this will all take a lot of time for our son, but we’re also rushing against winter and trying to keep things as normal as possible for our three other children.  It’s a delicate dance, and one that I’m always questioning whether or not I’m performing well.  So grateful for grace upon grace.

Speaking of autumnal weather, I’m going to be making a squash pie again today.  I found a new technique for making pie crusts with a food processor that makes pie crusts so much easier.  What’s your favorite fall recipe that just tastes like home to you?

I’m also crocheting up a cozy little afghan for Jubilee’s Christmas present.  It’s got some girly colors in it with touches of her mama’s more subdued preferences.  I’ll share a photo of my progress with you later this week.

What I’m Reading: Selected Poems by Robert Frost and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

 

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