There's something about fresh country air, sunshine through the trees and spending time with family that fully recharges your tired soul after a long week. The kids and I are so lucky that my parents live on a farm in the middle of nowhere and encourage us to come visit often and get as dirty as possible. Country life and kids seem to go hand in hand - it's much harder to get bored on the farm when there's always fish to catch, rocks to move, trails to hike and creeks to explore. Even the littlest of souls delights in taking a break from our weekly routine to get outside and connect with nature.
I grew up in the country, surrounded by woods, creeks and caves. My childhood consisted of playing school in an old horse stable, catching tadpoles and crawdads in the creek, climbing trees and reading books in the middle of the woods all by myself. I had my brothers, but for the most part, I was on my own as a country kid. It gives you a lot of time to think, to read, to imagine and daydream. As I got older and started craving more social interaction with friends, I started to see the appeal of city life (or at least life within city limits) and couldn't wait to move away to college and into the hustle and bustle of a busy city. My freshman year of college was the first year I'd ever lived within city limits...or even in a town with a stoplight! It was culture shock in the best possible way and I fell in love with the convenience of 24-hour grocery stores, movie theaters that were less than 30 minutes away and neighbors! All things I never had growing up.
However, life has a way of coming full circle, and now that I have children of my own, I long for the quiet of the country and want to make sure they they get the chance to experience a little of my childhood. I want them to be able to see the stars at night and the dew on the plants in the morning. I want them to have the opportunity to be alone in the middle of the woods, with just the wind in the trees and the sound of a running creek. I want them to appreciate nature, plants and animals. I want them to explore and be independent, imaginative and adventurous.
I love that my children get to have the best of both worlds. They get to grow up in a city, in a neighborhood full of friends their own age have access to great schools and a diverse population. During the week they get to explore museums and see shows, go to restaurants and visit vast libraries. City living is full of exciting events and opportunities I never dreamed of as a kid, but on the weekends, they also get to be country kids. They play in the mud, they bait their own hooks, they swim in creeks and swing on a tire hanging from a tree. They get to eat warm veggies straight out of the garden that they helped plant and water. They get to ride around on the golf cart and collect sticks for a nightly bonfire. They help catch worms and sweep the garage and mow the grass. They hike, they run, they explore. In the country, while there are always things to do, the kids aren't constantly being entertained - they have to use their imaginations to come up with games and stories and projects. Their little minds are fueled by green grass, fresh air and Vitamin D.
While I'm not sure I could ever go back to living an hour from Target or Starbucks, I feel incredibly lucky to have this little oasis in the middle of nowhere and even more lucky to have the people that live there. Our lives are so busy these days and will continue to get even more hectic as the kids get older and their sports and social schedules fill up with little league tournaments, birthday parties and gymnastics meets, so I know how important it is to make sure we take the time to get away when we can. And while our weekends at the farm are great for the kids, they're just as refreshing for me and even more precious than ever before. A year ago, after his diagnosis, we weren't sure my dad would even be here today. This past year has made me realize that every day is a gift to be appreciated and cherished. Time spent outside is important, but time spent with family is invaluable, no matter where you are. The fact that we get the opportunity to have weekends like this and create these memories is the most amazing blessing we could ask for.
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have
my senses put in tune once more.” – John Burroughs