Thursday, May 24, 2012
Running Free Through Fields
When I was a kid, there were fields and woods and plenty of open spaces to wander. My brother and I rode bikes with our friends, making dirt paths through fields of thistle, Queen Anne's lace, and blackberry bushes. If there was a mud puddle, we stomped in it. If there was a hill, we pushed each other off of it. We spent our summers getting sunburned, digging for earthworms and catching honeybees in jars.
My children didn't have this childhood.
Theirs was spent playing video games and walking through neighborhoods. Their time outside has been limited to organized games on manicured lawns. I can count on one hand the number of times they've rolled down a grassy hill or climbed a tree. That's just not what childhood was like for them. They don't know every inch of our backyard the way my brother and I did as kids. We knew every anthill and patch of thorny grass. We were out there every day.
So last night when we took the dog on a walk along a canal backed by roaming fields, I was thrilled when my daughter branched off of the path and ran to a patch of mud to look for frogs. I was elated when we ran through an unavoidable marshy mess of mud and had splatters all the way up our legs and back. Once dirty, there was no stopping us. We tromped through the fields in much the way I did as a kid, breathing in the scent of wild carrot, thistle, and earth. I let the dog off his leash and let him run. We all ran. We needed that.
Then, finally, we headed back to the walking path. The leash went back on. Our steps were more measured, but our smiles were huge. And then my daughter said those magic words: I love being outside. So we're going again tomorrow.