A LATE SUMMER FOREST ADVENTURE...
Yesterday we stepped away from the blinking screens, away from the endless array of chores and projects related to family life and retreated to the forest. Only a few minutes from where we live, Mahon Park is a little oasis tucked away near a local high school and sports field. It is a remnant of a once larger forest that in recent years has been revitalised by the local community. This 26 hectare trail is a magical place for my kids, just big enough for a 4 & 6 year old to feel like they can successfully complete a hike. They both lit up when I discussed the possibility of going on a "forest adventure".
We were all feeling a little lethargic, grumpy and tired from our busy week, though interestingly my boys became energized as soon as we got into the forest. The late summer sunshine had difficulty penetrating the forest canopy, and it was cool and refreshing throughout the trail. The boys ran ahead, unafraid and self-assured that around each corner there would be a new discovery to tell us about. My 5 month old daughter even started to giggle uncontrollably from her stroller, transfixed by the pockets of light beaming through the tall trees.
Harrowing tales of trolls and bears dominated our conversation. We would take turns running ahead, hiding behind a large tree stump or rock around the corner, ready to jump and play tricks on the rest of our little crew. It was a safe place to let imaginations run wild. This to me is a moment where we are all connected, content just to be together in the presence of immense beauty.
In light of all this, I have been wondering, and perhaps worrying about how to instill certain values in my children. In an age defined by increasing environmental degradation how does one instill a sense of hope, or a belief in the inherent goodness of this world? It dawned on me that to a degree part of the solution is to allow the forest to become inextricably linked to my children's imaginations, another place to dream, play and feel part of the larger world.
To them it is a vibrant canvass, filled with something new every time they attend to it. They add to its beauty, and are inextricably linked to it. Therein lies the truth, they are all entwined; their laughter, gasps of wonder, the breeze and the sound of swaying leaves, the pockets of light that travel through the forest roof and gleam in their eyes - there is no separation, they are all part of the same world. All connected, all as one, all worth protecting.