A Simple Gift: Questions & Curiosity in Nature

Whenever I venture out into nature I always proceed from a place of playful curiosity which often means I return home with more than a few fun questions on my mind.

One memorable outdoor adventure a few years ago had me paired with an equally inquisitive 9 year old who has always been great company when exploring our shared neck-of-the-woods.

As we traveled some of our favorite community pathways we came upon a large tree that had come down in a recent storm. We had fun balancing on top of it and traversing the full length of it up and down and all the while these questions began to bubble to the surface :

Is this a downed tree or is this a log?

What is the difference between a log and just a tree that has fallen?

How long does it have to be down to be called a log?

Is there really a difference?

The questions do not seem to be of much consequence in regards to whether we answered them or not however the fact that they did lead to some lively and engaging conversations was quite the simple and unexpected gift.

On our return trip back through our intentional farming community we asked folks what they thought and surveyed our family members too.

The best part was hearing each person’s reasoning in their answer. Most folks did not pick up their electronic gadget to use a search engine to find * the answer *. Instead they spoke from their life experiences. It was a wonderful thing.

I hope these questions inspire and encourage you and yours to get outdoors and be inquisitive and to share the experience with family and friends.

Curiosity, questioning, and P.L.A.Y. all go hand-in-hand . . . just like walking in the woods with your favorite kiddo!

Sending smiles to help light the way,

Karen & her Curious Capkin!

Nature Nurtures – May is Mental Health Month

On Mother’s Day this year a rare Sun Halo or Whirling Rainbow appeared over Massachusetts. It was a magical moment that hovered in time and caused me to pause and take notice as nature so often does.

However, this moment in particular had a special meaning as I shared it together with my family as we were just emerging from a stretch of mental health challenges that rocked our world and we each seemed to be carving out time to spend in the great outdoors as a part of our recovery.

Actually what I have noticed most since our heightened mental health moment is that we have not only been carving out specific time to spend in nature many of us are actually craving it.

Whether it is gazing upon a bed of tulips mindfully planned to bring forth a painter’s palette of color as we exit the last of winter’s embrace and stretch towards the longer daylight hours of spring and begin new plantings in the butterfly and veggie gardens or . . .

spying dandelions springing up in unexpected places with a burst of golden yellow in both the meadow and wherever the seeds have spread over the years, all of these beauties and outdoor activities fill our tank with a much needed sense of calm and renewal.

Stumbling upon the graceful unfurling of the ferns down near the river’s edge on a nature walk or . . .

seeking out the apple blossoms on a bird walk as they are beckoning bees, hummingbirds, and humans to share in the celebration of their annual return bringing new hope to the landscape for another season of sweet goodness.

May you and yours always find your way home again, especially when it feels like your mind or body or spirit have lost their way, by relying on nature to nurture you in times of these great challenges and may every day be a time to focus on your mental health so that you may all bloom and continue to grow into the very humans you were meant to be.

Mental Health Matters

Your unique and beautiful presence in this world is very much needed and is the gift that keeps on giving.

Be kind to yourself and simply be kind.

U-Be-U

Sending a smile filled with loving kindness to help light the way,

Karen ;0)

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Pair this reading with – A Simple Gift: U-be-U


P.L.A.Y. – Pass it on!

Curious Capkins love getting outdoors to P.L.A.Y. with you in all seasons and all kinds of weather!
So step into the sunshine, snow shower, wind or rain and enjoy the adventure.

You and your kiddos will be so very glad you did!

Nature Poop Post #2

A magical moment in any outdoor adventure is to find . . .

SCATBEDOODOO!!!

Who left this behind?


❤ 🙂 ❤


What do you do on this special occasion?

  1. Watch Your Step!

2. Look with your eyes not your hands (no touch!)

3. Draw or take a snapshot of the poop to later decipher which field or forest animal left behind this special clue.

BONUS – Sing your own verse of SCATBEDOODOO to celebrate discovering which animal has passed this way before you!


❤  🙂 ❤


SCATBEDOODOO is a P.L.A.Y. on words!

SCAT = animal poop

SCAT = the improvised singing of nonsense syllables in jazz music like bop-doo-wop


The authors write in the introduction:

“(this book assists with) . . . the joy of reading stories written in the soil and snow. The fun of nature’s challenge is solving the mysteries written on the trail.”

I highly recommend picking up a copy for your nature library! ~ Karen ;0)


What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!


Nature Poop Post #1

SCAT – What’s that???

A curiously fun and magical moment in any outdoor adventure is to find . . .

SCATBEDOODOO!!!

Who left this behind?


SCATBEDOODOO is a new special P.L.A.Y. combination of two things:

SCAT = animal poop (aka feces)

SCAT = the improvised singing of nonsense syllables in jazz music like bop-doo-wop.


What to do when you find the poo out in the wild:

1-Watch Your Step!

2-Look with your eyes not your hands (no touch!)

3-Draw or take a snapshot of the poop to later decipher which field or forest animal left behind this special clue.

4- Get curious if you like and poke it with a stick to try to figure out what this animal ate. Can you see fur, seeds, grasses, or ???

BONUS P.L.A.Y.  Sing your own verse of SCATBEDOODOO to celebrate discovering which animal has passed this way before you!

The authors write in the introduction:

“(this book assists with) . . . the joy of reading stories written in the soil and snow. The fun of nature’s challenge is solving the mysteries written on the trail.”

I highly recommend picking up a copy for your nature library! ~ Karen ;0)


What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

Forest Bathing with the Family – A Daily Simple Gift!

Have you ever stood amongst the trees in mid-autumn in awe of the wonderful canvas of color before you and wondered how the leaves change color or know when to fall?

Have you ever been in a pine forest with fog rolling in and felt the stillness of hushed sounds all around and only an echo of a bird calling in the distance?

Have you ever walked about after a winter ice storm to see the sparkling sun shine through the coated branches?

Have you ever stood under the canopy of a maple tree during a light spring rain shower and watched the water droplets roll off the tips of the leaves?

Then perhaps forest bathing may be something you’ve been doing for awhile now and the phrase is simply new to you. Or perhaps you’ve been spending a great deal of time indoors and the thought of time spent amongst the trees brings you back to childhood or a more peaceful time in your life.

Either way, now is a great time to reconnect to the idea of spending time in nature and to learn more about the benefits of soaking up your natural surroundings for a few moments each day, or as often as you can, for your health and well being and that of your family.

The bonus is you’ve come to the right place as P.L.A.Y. is very much here to help you connect and engage with this concept of forest bathing. The daily blog posts on P.L.A.Y.  are here to encourage the whole family to find the nearest nature path or patch, be present and allow for your sense of curiosity and wonder to kick in, and make the essence of P.L.A.Y.  a routine practice.


Forest Bathing For Families



Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness

by Dr. Qing Li


Dr. Qing Li, a scientist in Japan, explains in his book Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness and how the term shinrin-yoku (or forest bathing) came about in the 1980’s. He also shares the many ways spending time in the forest or in a nature setting can make a world of difference in your health and well being. As a scientist he has gathered the data over time to show skeptics why spending frequent time in the forest is beneficial for improved sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, increased energy boost, a natural way to connect with loved ones, and so much more. And as a human he has experienced these benefits first hand.

❤ ❤ ❤

I too have discovered, through simple curiosity and P.L.A.Y. , that heading outdoors daily in all seasons has had a beneficial impact on how I see and feel and experience this world. Being outdoors routinely has increased my creativity, provided a sense of calm even during challenging times, and given me the opportunity to learn so much more about my natural surroundings here in New England.

Forest bathing and nature walking have been so beneficial to my well being and that of my family that I just had to share these experiences and encourage others to join the journey. This has been the catalyst for creating P.L.A.Y. – Passionate Learning All Year and keeps me consistently returning to my neck-of-the-woods to see what new wonders have appeared right outside my door and eagerly passing forward these gifts through this blog to you and your family.


Hannah Fries, author of Forest Bathing Retreat: Find Wholeness in the Company of Trees, has also created a wonderful guide that is a great companion to Dr. Qing Li’s book and is just the right size for the whole family to engage with and be inspired by both the photos and prompts. An example of a prompt found mid-way through the book is “As you watch a tree sway in the wind, let your knees and shoulders relax. Sway a little on your own stem.” Or another example is ” Find harmony as you look closely at the natural world, you may begin to see patterns amid what seems like chaos -unexpected connections thrumming everywhere around us.” Hannah’s book is a balm in these times as we all need to find peace-filled spaces and moments to simply be present and in awe of nature which can help us feel grounded and safe on Mother Earth even in the midst of uncertainty.

Note: The foreword to Hannah’s book is written by Robin Wall Kimmerer the author of the well known and also much recommended Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.


🙂

Time to gather up your gaggle of giggling gifts, aka kiddos + family all – Fido too, and announce you’re going for a bath in the forest – together!

It’s P.L.A.Y. Time!

Please pass forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage loved ones, both near and far, on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


Potluck P.L.A.Y. – Autumn Acorn Abundance!


Purchase HereP.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books


My walks this week included some P.L.A.Y.-full . . .   

Autumn Acorn Abundance!

Pausing and being present provided the opportunity to see these special striped acorns still attached to their caps.

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Curious Capkins want to know: Why do some years have more acorns than others? What impact does this have?

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“Marble Madness” ensued as the abundance of acorns made for tricky foot travel.

❤ ❤ ❤

Bonus Bounty!

According to the Farmer’s Almanac Folklore an abundance of acorn means a snowy winter (AND fat squirrels)!

I’ll be curious to see how this actually P.L.A.Y.s out!

❤ ❤ ❤

Visit my video on PINTEREST (here) for a simple snapshot of “Autumn’s Acorn Abundance” with a batch of beautiful oak leaves in the sunshine.


What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

❤ ❤ ❤

A Simple Gift: Nature Nurtures


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


Our family has the good fortune of living in an intentional community situated on over roughly 80 acres and the moment we step outside our door we have access to fields and meadows, both a babbling brook and a river, mountain and ridge, forest and old orchards and gardens. And there are animals too. ❤ ❤ 🙂 ❤ ❤

Goats, chickens, ducks, cats and a dog all share our homes and community spaces as well as the wide assortment of woodland creatures that visit us outdoors both day and night like wild turkeys, coyotes, deer, skunk, woodchucks, porcupines, foxes, birds, owls, and so much more.

Living up here in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts provides daily opportunities to explore, make connections, be in awe of nature, and follow the P.L.A.Y. path.

Each time I take my daily walk I chance upon a new delight and inspiration for my work. Wandering about in wonder and being present always provides the simple gifts of creating new thoughts or connections. Nature always seems to have a wonderful nurturing effect on the mind, body, and spirit.

Looking forward to snowscape season . . . just around the corner! Hooray!

 

Nature can also bring about the playful, childlike essence in all of us like creating a dam down at the brook, stacking rock cairns at the river’s edge, or building gnome homes in the woods. Racing to see who can sled down a snow covered hillside first, frolicking about with the playful baby goats, or simply getting curious with your Capkin to see what new ice sculpture appeared overnight, are all ways that  nature nurtures that desire in us to be curious and playful and to *be a kid again* or quite simply to be a kid.

 

Exploring, getting curious, and being present out in nature daily are all wonderful and necessary parts of the P.L.A.Y. journey.

Are you in?

Time to gather up your family or a few P.L.A.Y.-mates, all ages are welcome, step out your door, and begin the adventure today!

And no worries as it is guaranteed that mother nature will have plenty of magic and mysteries, in any season and any outdoor location, just waiting for you and yours to P.L.A.Y.-fully discover if you are simply present to receive the simple gifts.

Sending smiles,

Karen ;0) 🙂


Purchase Here P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books