What I learned about nature from a 4 year old
It was a beautiful September day, the leaves just barely turning the lightest yellows, promising for a burst of autumn colors not far off. The perfect day for a Fairy Hike. You see, my son is collecting, as he calls it, “Nature Stuff” to create his fairy house. This is a daily routine in our house- he heads outside in his pajamas first thing to see if there are grasshoppers and ladybugs in his fairy houses. ** Fairy houses are really just nests of the most beautiful things a 4 year old could imagine**
We set off to hike a 5 mile trail up Bear Canyon, a lovely loop in the sub alpine forests of Montana. I knew this was ambitious with Rio, but seemed like the perfect place to just get out for a quick hike.
Not even 100 yards up the trail, Rio was squatting down, his brown eyes focused intently on the smallest purple flower. He couldn’t believe the beauty in this tiny bluish blossom, as he examined it over and over. He popped his first treasure in the tin he had brought for his collections. A small 4 year old’s step later he was mesmerized by the moss hanging from a branch, “That’s not witch hair. It is nests for the tree frogs.” He started singing, loudly and proudly as he marched up the trail. “We are on a Safari. A Fairy Safari. We are on an ad”b”enture.” Not a detail escaped Rio on the trail. We stopped at ever tree, gave them names and kissed the flowers to get powers. Rio counted yellow tree stars and wondered when they would become shooting stars and fall to the ground.
Rio’s box of treasure was so full of blades of grass, crispy leaves, wilted flowers, squashed berries and tangled moss it couldn’t close. I fought the reaction to throw some out as we walked along and get going on the trail- but I then realized this was the most magical things Rio had ever seen. It was magic. It was worth it. This trail was not about getting to a destination, or excersize or finishing a hike. This was a trail that unlocked the magic of the forest, the tiniest intricate details that the whole ecosystem is made of.
The smallest pinecones have the most detail. The inner pollen of a flower is magic dust that makes honey. Wishes actually grow more wishes. Every leaf is different. Wings are incredible, especially lady bugs who have 2 sets of them. Sticks are magic wands that trees use for bug houses. Dirt is beautiful, turns into paint and comes so many different colors. Red leaves are the most rare, but are actually forest love letters. If you sing as you walk you can talk to the birds and they will understand your song. Grasshoppers are incredible athletes. Flower power is real, you just have to kiss them. Tiny trees need hugs to grow. Butterflies want to kiss your face. Fairies can be any kind of animal or bug, because in nature- we are all magical.
So, today I made a promise to myself and Rio, to the forest and the universe to never take for granted the tiny, and very real magic that surrounds us everywhere.