Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity. ― John Muir,
We live in Central Texas, far from foothills and mountains. Still I can agree with Muir’s words just the same: being outdoors is the best way to clear my mind, my nerves, my heart. On a typical day, when I’m feeling anxious or exhausted, stepping outside my door is an immediate cure. Nature has a way of quieting my soul and thoughts, of reminding me of the simplicity of life.
On the weekend, when we have a larger block of time together as a family, we love being outdoors together for the same reasons. It reminds us of the gift of time, the simplicity of family life together. Plus, in a really practical way, it’s good to be in spaces where the kids can run-a-muck with loud voices and laughter, where we can step away from the demands of the home. Deep breathing, fresh air, sunshine–every bit of it is good for the soul and body.
Most weekends, we may simply enjoy our yard or a local trail or park. On my favorite weekends, we make a day trip to the coast or a nearby state park. In the fall and spring, we try to camp for the entire weekend. These trips don’t require the fanciest gear or even a ton of preparation, but I love how they inspire curiosity, how they allow for idle conversation and thought, how they bring us together with a fresh experience (even when we are familiar with the place).
We took one of these day hikes on a recent weekend together. We packed the kids’ water backpacks, snacks, binoculars, a notebook, pencil or colors, camera, local field guides and drove to a state park. We mapped out our hike, taking consideration of how far our youngest can walk, 3-4 miles at most right now. The goal for us isn’t length or speed, and I find it’s more fun for all of us if we pause and climb trees or skip rocks or draw when everyone needs the pause. When possible (like this day), we stop by the ranger station to grab a junior ranger backpack. They’re free to check out for the day and include paper, crayons, binoculars, nature guides, and a little packet of things to look for and activities to do while on the trail. We’ve also been enjoying the Wild Explorers Club, an online adventure program, to help lead us through nature exploring and basic wilderness skills. The lessons are self-paced and easy to adapt to our own outings as we go. Likewise, they inspire us to get outdoors together!
Do you have plans to be outdoors this weekend? Even if it’s sitting on a porch, make some time for it. Happy weekend, friends! xx