Hugging trees makes children sleepy

The kids have been making us a little crazy lately, so we decided to try doing something new today. We went to visit the Cumming Nature Center in Honeoye Falls.

Our plan was several-fold:

  • It’s an hour drive away — farther than we’d usually go for a hike in the woods, but this ate up 2 hours of our morning while our children were safely strapped into their car seats
  • It would tire them out, so they’d nap (this has been an issue since the Binky Fairy visited Duncan 10 days ago)
  • It’s outdoors — and we all could use more nature and tree hugging.

Speaking of tree hugging, when I see my children voluntarily go up to a tree and literally hug it — with no prompting or demonstration on my part — I know I’m doing something right as a parent. They do get outdoors to enjoy the natural world (as much as is natural in a city) a lot more than I do and I know that’s so important for them. At least if they’re on a playground or playing in our tiny backyard, they’re outside, and children can find the beauty and wonder of nature in anything. Often it seems to be in the rocks they insist on bringing home. Or the mulch they must repeatedly put on the bottom of the slides.

In any case, we managed to all get in the car and drive there without incident. Duncan actually fell asleep a few minutes before we got there. That’s what happens when you insist on waking up befor 6 a.m. We wandered around for a while, looked at a pioneer log cabin and read some signs about how the native Irondequoit used to live and then carried the crying, dragging little ones back to the car.

We found a diner for lunch. It was the first time I sent food back to the kitchen. I ordered a roast beef sandwich and my beef was green. Yes, green. Beef is not a vegetable. It shouldn’t be green. Amazingly, we finished lunch and packed everyone back into the car — where they fell asleep on the way home. We ran errands while they slept (Kevin stayed in the car with them, don’t worry! But we were out already and just used up 2 hours’ of gas) and got home with them still sleeping. I hung out with them and read in the car for a while until they each woke up.

It doesn’t seem like much of a fascinating day, and it was a lot of driving for a walk in the woods. Next time, we’ll pick somewhere closer to home and keep the hiking short. I’m glad that Berry is finally getting old enough to take on a walk like that, as I’ve always envisioned spending so much more time outdoors with the kids than I tend to actually do. It gives me hope for future weekend activities.

At lunch, we talked about our favorite part of the walk. Kevin saw a knarly tree that he liked, Duncan liked stepping on the tree roots. Berry — well, she’s 18 months old, she doesn’t give us much in the way of descriptive sentences yet. Me? I liked the part where we walked along a stream and all stopped and got quiet enough to hear the water flowing below us. There was stillness, suddenly, finally. I closed my eyes and could feel the woods around me and hear my own thoughts, finally given the space in my head.

Even after we got home and I was trying to decipher the TV show that Berry was asking me to put on, I looked in her eyes and she seemed different to me, somehow. Maybe we’d just spent some good time together. Maybe tromping around in the woods and hearing some stillness was good for her, too.