The Inheritance of the Outdoors


My girls, like wildflowers, bloom outdoors: they are their most natural selves consumed with awe and wonder, compassion for the worm found on the foot path, excited by the robin frolicking in the grass. They are not afraid to forage for violets, fiddleheads and natures bounty of edibles. They have been seen eating dandelions, thyme, mint, sage, lavender and pansies from our garden ( also tomatoes, zucchini and kale). They create outdoor food with sand, dirt and sticks, garnish it with leaves or petals as they serve it to  visitors near by. They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, to leave their shoes inside, to pick up potato bugs, and lady bugs and caterpillars. Sometimes they catch outdoor ‘pets’ they call them which could range from worms to grasshoppers to snails. Once they caught a praying mantis and caught food for it before releasing it. One of our favourite family pastimes are hikes at our favourite conservation or local trails. We have identified new species of plants, spotted new birds and observed new insects. We have nature journaled our discoveries and read library books about each season and what we saw. 

    I wish I could tell you I have always loved the outdoors, that I was raised with my own multitude of outdoor experiences and memories- but that was not the case. I did not receive an inheritance of the outdoors, it was never a priority for me or my family. I look back on my childhood and think back to how I was so miserable at recess, how I hated the cold and would sneak indoors and take very extended washroom trips so I wouldn’t have to be out in the snow. I know that part of that now is that I was never dressed right for the weather. 

    My parents coming from Egypt had never really learned the art of layering or understood the benefits of merino wool. I honestly never really learned it myself as an adult and it wasn’t until my daughter first attended a day a week at a forest school - and read the Parent’s Manuel, that I learned about Merino wool under layers, waterproof mittens and balaclavas (or baklavas as I sometimes call it.) I remember the conversation I had trying to explain the concept of nature/ forest school to my mom who thought the idea of leaving kids outside for 3 hours in the winter was torturous. “They build a fire mom, and she’s wearing a ton of layers, and running around. She’s not uncomfortable outdoors - she loves it!” 

    But the concept of being outdoors in nature everyday is foreign to my parents. They grew up in an urban city south of Cairo where their memories of nature were slim- often family trips to the beach once a year or when ever they could afford it. My parents told me they had memories of easter picnics near citrus groves where the air was sweet with the smell of orange blossoms. They did play outdoors on the streets below their apartment buildings but the landscape was not one of wild and green but one of cars and concrete.

    For me when the world turned chaotic in 2020, I found the walking in nature the most peaceful place. Although during the lockdown of 2020, my region shut down the trails and forests. Yes that statement seems like a crazy one to me, how can one close the forest? I found the forests a place to heal, to breath deep and mentally reframe. Spring was on its way, and nature didn’t seem phased at all by the threat of a virus or lockdowns. While our whole world seems like it was stopped, nature marched on, buds bloomed, birds chirped and the little private forest trail by our house, the one we escaped to when all else was closed, was coming to life. 

    It was then when nature became my escape, where I geared up for the weather so we could be outdoors with friends when the libraries had shut their doors and houses had legal limits. No one understood what life was like being pregnant and trying to entertain and care for 2 stir crazy toddlers. But nature opened its arms wide open to us and we welcomed the change. 

My heart found solace in the sun, tenacity in the trees and gratitude in the green grass. 

And after falling in love with nature, and the maker it reflected, I will never be the same.


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