Hello, my name is Lorraine! We live in a suburban city, where all the houses are tightly knitted close together and stitched along in neat little rows of yard and paved streets. One block away are the hustle and bustle of loud delivery trucks and the strong smell of Costco hot dogs and fried foods thickening the air just as the sun rises.
One of the many reasons my husband and I decided to homeschool our daughter was that we wanted Penelope to grow up strong in her faith in God and also be conscious of her impact on the earth and be aware of all the nature around her.
We are a one car family. Not having a car has forced me to walk more and be more resourceful with my time and the city around me. It has also provided amazing, hands on nature conversations with my four year old daughter that wouldn’t have happened in a car.
One morning as we walked to the post office to mail packages for my small business, Penelope asked me why the tree she stood under had no leaves, (something I had explained to her plenty of times with books on the four seasons, hadn’t I?). I took her by the hand and knelt down and showed her a red leaf that had fallen off of that tree and onto the sidewalk. I confessed to her that it was dead. She was instantly sad for it and asked why. As I explained I may have gotten a little theatrical and acted out the beauty of nature’s cycle ending in spring’s rebirth. I “helped the tree talk” and waved my arms foolishly in the air and pretended they were branches. The delight in her eyes only told me that she truly was watching, listening and understanding and perhaps may keep that moment in her treasury of memories.
Although the photos I take on these neighborhood city street walks are not as interesting or magical as the beautiful weekend mountain hikes I post on Instagram, nonetheless it is these walks through our neighborhood streets that are the bread and butter of our learning experiences.
Our walks have taught us to look for nature in every sidewalk crack and in every yard. It’s not hard to find. For here in our own neighborhood we find mushrooms growing on city trees. They may look like a discarded chili dog to the average passerby but if you really look, nature can be seen almost anywhere.
The hurried mama inside me wants to walk fast, hurry up and get to where I’m going. But the eager child in Penelope wants to explore, pick up every leaf and ask questions. If I don’t rush her and if I don’t fill the space with my chatter, I find Penelope pointing and asking; opening doors for conversations to fall into place. It’s me who really does do all the learning. I learn to slow down. I learn to appreciate the city I live in. I learn to stop and see the nature on the paved city sidewalks.