From playing in the snow we so desperately wanted to celebrating Winter Solstice in our own way, the last few days have been a really special time for Jamie and me. On Thursday we spent most of the day either outside in the snow (hiking, sledding, playing) or inside enjoying eachothers company. Yesterday we had an unplugged day with no computers, radio, or other things until after sunset so we could fully enjoy the shortest day of the year. We went hiking at Hubbard Hills, gathered fallen branches and pine cones from around town to decorate our house, played several games of Scrabble, and exchanged gifts by candle light as the sun was setting. Last night we had friends over for more Scrabble, beer, pickled green beans and carrots, potato soup, and brownies. We wanted to have a party but when only two people showed up it ended up being exactly what we wanted all along.
These last two days have really gotten me thinking about our connection to the seasons and nature. Taking note of the moon cycles, changing of seasons, and changing of the light is something I make a point of paying attention to– and something I know a lot of people take for granted. Winter storm Draco brought Viroqua a beautiful snow cover and while walking around town through the snow on a beautiful sunny day, I couldn’t help but notice how few other people were out there enjoying it. On Thursday we went to the park for sledding and there was about a dozen or so kids and their adults there having a blast but I still feel like there should have been more. Where is everyone on these days? Are they inside reading and playing Scrabble or are they sitting in front of the TV, zoning out. My guess would be the latter.
In the after school program for middle schools where I work we recently had the kids make Keynote presentations about themselves to present to the class. We gave them free reign to put whatever they wanted on it. Almost every kid talked about music videos they like, songs they listen to, video games they play, and tv shows they watch. On their “Things I like” page no one mentioned hiking or play outside or making snowmen or anything of the sort. I think part of the reason is because it is way cooler to say you like “Gangam style” than it is to say you like building fairy houses but how much of it is because the kids spend most of their time indoors?
If you walk past Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School in Viroqua on almost school day whether it is raining or snowing or perfectly sunny, you will see kids outside playing and having an absolute blast. The importance of being outside and playing trumps the fear that they could get a cold or get hurt. They are taught to dress for the weather. If you pass by the public school when it is raining or super cold out then you would think school must have been canceled that day because it is deserted outside. What does this teach children? What doesn’t it teach children?
I don’t have answers to these questions right now. All I have are my observations and opinions. My gut tells me that the teachers in the Waldorf school are doing something right here though. I strongly believe when it snows there should be kids outside playing in it. We should be teaching children to notice the changing of the light and encouraging imaginative play. And adults should be out there too. Get outside if you can or at least take note of when the sun rises and sets each day if you can’t actually get out there. Keep the heat in your house lower than you normal and simply wear more clothes because it’s winter and unless you live in Texas you don’t need to be wearing a tank top this time of year. Take 10 minutes with which you would be distracting yourself on the computer and look out the window instead. Watch what the squirrels are doing. Notice what types of birds are around, what ones aren’t. And if you are up for an added challenge, try to only eat things that are in season. Strawberries in December is ridiculous unless you live someone that grows them that time of year.
The world didn’t end yesterday which means there is still plenty of time to get the know the earth if you aren’t friends already!
Now stop reading blogs and go play outside!