This week I’m thinking about how we react when things don’t go as planned, and this week that seemed most of the time, for both big and small things. From a child who didn’t nap when I expected him to, to a yoga teacher not showing up for class, to a friend’s sad miscarriage, to my husband’s surprise career decisions, to my son bringing the wrong (empty) lunchbox to school. While ranging from inconvenient to heartbreaking, these unexpected twists of life expose our ability to cope and thrive and can encourage us to develop those abilities. Something about this photo of my son exploring the shoreline at Alviso Marina reminds me to find joy in the unexpected and to breathe in life even when it didn’t go as planned.
With the weather turning cold and rainy, I’ve been getting lots of questions about cancelled hikes. While each hike leader gets to make her own decision, my children and I go out in most weather. Here in the Bay Area, where weather conditions are rarely dangerous, I want my kids to learn that when we are adequately prepared, we need not be afraid of “bad” weather. Some combination of warm and waterproof will keep us all comfortable and enable us to appreciate nature in its variety, not just on sunny days. And my children seem invigorated and excited by stomping in puddles and squishing through mud. Several studies published lately about the metabolic benefits of experiencing cold temperatures have made me even more determined not to shy away from cloudy, cold, or wet adventures. Take a step outside your comfort zone and join us for winter hikes.
I’ve finished prepping nine of the dozen dishes we’ll be having today for Thanksgiving Dinner — now it’s time to send my well-wishes to all of you for a happy time with family and friends, good food, and excellent hiking weather today and for the days to come.
Partly in response to the hyper-commercial activity of the coming weekend, several parks agencies are offering some Green events to do, rather than the usual Black Friday events (though admittedly it looks like Black Friday would be more aptly called Black November, the way a 24-hour sale has expanded to weeks).
Shared by my friend, Andrew G.: “On November 27, 2015, the day after Thanksgiving, we invite you to bring your families to a redwood state park. The shopping – and the leftovers – can wait. Thanksgiving is about sharing time with family and appreciating our many shared blessings. Redwood parks are uniquely suited for both! So come take a hike; the Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks will cover the day-use cost for anyone who visits a participating redwood state park on the day after Thanksgiving. That’s the best bargain you’re going to find this Black Friday!” It looks like many of the free passes have already been “sold out,” but you can visit their site (http://www.savetheredwoods.org/get-involved/visit/redwood-parks-pass/) to see what is still available.
East Bay Regional Park District is waiving fees at all 65 of its parks on November 27th as well. No need to reserve passes here — just come to the park! To see more information, see http://www.ebparks.org.
REI is promoting non-spending, green activities this Friday. If you are social-minded and want to commercialize your outdoor fun (rather than buy into the usual Black Friday activities), consider posting to http://optoutside.rei.com. You can also post to StrollerHikes’ Facebook page, of course.
If you’re looking to save admission fees any time this year, take advantage of the National Park Foundation’s Every Kid in a Park Pledge. They are offering free admission for 4th graders and all of their families, in an effort to get more kids to get outside. For more information, see http://www.nationalparks.org/ook/ekiap-signup.
Let’s hope the concept of a Green Friday sticks, and there are even more options and promotions of these great ideas, next year.
Happy hiking – enjoy that crisp air and those beautiful fall leaves!
-Debbie, Max, Holly, and Andrew
p.s. Blast from the past with the photo at top. Thanks to Karl (as ever) for his beautiful imagery. This one was from Calero County Park.
This past week during our afternoon hike, my boys noticed the moon and asked “why does the moon looked like a fingernail mommy?” I did my best to explain the lunar phases of the moon to children ages 5 and under, but I think my comparison to growing fingernails left them confused about what they saw during our hike. When I tried to explain how the moon “grows” I received more questions about the sun and moon. I didn’t want to resort to finding answers via Google, so I told my curious hikers we would research the answers during our next library outing. The next day, my curious children begged to go to the library. We looked for “moon books” and anything that would help explain the different moon phases.
Imagine my surprise how a simple afternoon hike led to a learning discovery. More fact finding missions to discover for these boys! Enjoy nature and also enjoy the discoveries that follow!
Today is my son’s fifth birthday and I am still in awe of how quickly he has grown and that he is five years old. He has made my world more magical by showing me the world from his perspective. I’ve learned about various birds from our weekly hikes and daily bike rides, leave and tree patterns and seasonal changes. His observations and questions about nature have led me to become more curious and I too, have learned from his discoveries as well.
So today, I will cherish the memories we’ve shared while looking forward to his future discoveries on our next outdoor exploration.