Nature Play: A New Beginning

As the new year approaches some of us (I know I am) might be reflecting on the past year and where we want this next one to go. I learned in 2017 that your life can change like the rushing rapids of a river that’s just made it through a storm. Actually, now that I think about that metaphor more, that’s exactly what my life has been like for the past year. Now, as I slowly approach January 1st of 2018, the waters of my life have slowed to an ebb, exhausted from the onslaught of constant rain.

Despite the dreary image I paint, we cannot forget that rain and lots of it can be good. Rain brings life, and nourishment, it refreshes that which is parched from too much sun. But on the other hand, rain can also be destructive, if you don’t have/take the proper precautions. Normally, I plan for the worst and I prep to the extreme, better safe than sorry is often my motto. However, this year was different. The rain was such an unexpected event that I had no time to prepare. The best I could do was keep my head above water and keep on paddling until I saw the light shine through those cumulus clouds.

And this is where I make my way to Nature Play: A New Beginning. I found solace this past year in nature. I found peace in the Vermont forests, trudging through snow and mostly mud, slipping and falling as I descended the steep mountains. I found joy in venturing into the woods with the kids in my nature camp, watching them frolic like wood fairies and build forts like pioneers. I found awe again, while staring at the massive rocks and trees in the Hill Country of Texas, where everything seems bigger.

This year I discovered that nature is meant to be felt, smelt, and tasted( when it’s safe and you know what you’re eating). Nature play saved me from sadness. Simply looking at the beauty of the world around me made me smile. Even in moments where I felt like my life wasn’t at all what I thought it should be, or I was frustrated at the lack of empathy I saw in those around me, being in nature made it all feel right again.

I saw Nature Play bring the light into my campers eyes as they examined the frogs they caught, and proudly showed their parents the forts they constructed.  Nature gave us all a new beginning this year. A place where we felt safe, like we were a small part of something bigger.

My one hope for this new year is that everyone can experience nature the way I have. Whether it be they need saving, a quiet place to think, or a new adventure, nature can give it all to us. Now, if only we could see how truly lucky we are maybe we’d have the courage to begin anew, in nature, with nature, and connected.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe” – John Muir 

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