Springtime Walks in New England
It is March and everything is turning. The clocks have turned, the seasons turn, the leaves turn and twirl in the March winds, the sun turns more northward. In New England, human beings turn their thoughts from cold and snow and keeping the fire burning to opening windows, springtime hikes, and planting flowers. It is a time of turning from inside to outside, to turn the focus away from the contemplative, introspective days of winter and look toward days of sunshine, walking by a rushing stream, watching the grass awaken blade by blade. Blossom by blossom, first snowdrop, crocus, then daffodil and dandelion, the earth begins to turn to life, to growth, and we want to witness the changes.
Young children are also turning away from spending many hours inside. They are turning towards exploration, excitement, freedom. Freedom from snowsuits, hats, boots, mittens; from being enclosed within the four walls of their homes. What joy to go outside unencumbered by clothing or freezing temperatures! What joy to feel the squishy mud in boots or between toes! What joy to run freely to investigate what is behind the next bush. And what joy to go as slow as they want!
As you move outside with your young children this spring, they will move with varied paces. Sometimes racing, sometimes spending endless minutes to ponder a tiny pebble or inspect every dandelion — all 98 of them. You can enjoy those moments, not explaining, merely pondering with your child, contemplating the wonder of it all. While you give them the space and time to observe, touch, and enjoy, you can also experience the bounteous gifts of nature yourself. Let the wonder of the world sink into your soul as well.
Moods of Your Walk
So, on your springtime walks with your children, enjoy with them the worms, bugs, and blossoms. Know that you are offering your child opportunities to build the capacity for a quality essential to the human soul — gratitude for what we have been given. At the same time, as young children, they are open and imitative not just of what you do but what is going on inside of you. They will be aware of your mood of gratitude and will imitate it.
During these walks in nature, but especially in springtime because the changes are visible day-to-day, the children also take in the process of transformation — not with their intellect but with their eyes. They will see this process in the outside world, but the picture will live inside their souls for the future when they begin to experience transformation in themselves — first in their bodies in puberty, then as teenagers when their minds expand with knowledge, and later as adults when their souls evolve and transform as they meet the experiences of their lives. Your children will have pictures and images to ground them.
So early spring walks are not just for exercise and letting off steam. They are for helping to establish a foundation for your child’s future with the building blocks of wonder, gratitude, and a sense for the power of transformation.
A Springtime Verse
A little bulb was sleeping in his wintry bed,
Along came the sunshine and danced on his head.
Wake up, little crocus, now that it is spring
Wake up, little crocus, and hear the birdies sing.
So the little crocus woke up and lifted his head
Threw off his covers and jumped out of bed.
With your child, you can curl up in a ball with arms over your head on the floor as you quietly say the poem. When you arrive at the last two lines, with exuberance, you can uncurl your arms and jump up. Enjoy their delight at these transformations — down to up, soft to louder, sleeping to waking.
Spring is coming, Spring is coming
Birds, come build your nests.
Weave together straw and feather,
Doing each your best.
Enjoy the springtime with your toddlers!
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