Nature Connection Messenger April Moore had a beautiful post on her blog today called “Awakening to Nature.” In it, she looks back to try to identify when it was that she caught the spark of her now-passionate love for Nature, and it got me thinking about my own long relationship with Nature.

I was one of those lucky ones who grew up on a farm. I was the oldest of five children, and after teaching us the basics of being safe outdoors, my parents allowed us to wander at will and for hours on end. Our farm was called Woodside, and in one particularly idyllic wooded area, there was a stream that fell in a long, beautiful, downhill cascade over rocks, tree trunks, and fallen trees, until it met the wider and deeper Goose Creek. We called it Woodside Water Wonderland, because it was enchanting any time of year. During the summer, the water reflected the light filtering through the overhead canopy of the hardwood forest. In the winter, the little waterfalls froze in wonderful ice formations.

Woodside Water Wonderland was almost a mile from the house, so it was not a place I visited alone until I was at least nine or ten, but to this day, just thinking of it takes me back to the feeling of quiet serenity, the distinctive smell of woods and water, the caress of a breeze through the trees, and the wonderful sounds of birdsong and babbling water as it falls over stones and logs.

There are so many aspects of modern society that result in far fewer children having this kind of formative experience. Parents are much more fearful of letting their children roam, and so many more children now are raised away from the country where the opportunity exists for this. With so many more families with two working parents, there is not as much free time to take children into the outdoors.

Fortunately, we have wonderful parks and arboretums that can, as they did for April Moore, inspire and instill a love, knowledge, and appreciation for the natural world that lasts a lifetime. Have you made friends with your nearby parks and arboretums? I know I have spent far too little time at the State Arboretum of Virginia which is only about 40 miles away. I'm setting myself a goal to get there again soon. Arboretums are particularly wonderful ways to learn the names of those trees you see every day in your yard.

Do you recall a particular time or place that awakened your own awareness or appreciation for the natural world? Please share it with us!

Nature Connection Tip:

Find out where the nearest arboretum is to your home. Sometimes they are associated with a local college or university. Explore  its website and plan a visit.

Share in the Comments below a moment when you awakened to Nature.

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