My parents have a piece of land with a hay meadow, a pond, a creek, and NO HOUSE.
In fact, they just had running water hooked up this past week. They plan to build, but in the meantime, my boys and their cousins are learning valuable life lessons from the land. Here is what the great outdoors, and the leadership of my parents, are teaching our children about nature’s adventures:
- Earn what you use. Our family shares several ATV’s that the kids will ride until the cows come home … literally. Dad has started asking them to gather a bucket of rocks from the hay meadow or firewood from fallen trees to earn their gasoline before they ride. It’s not much to ask, really, but a great lesson in learning the value of what fun sometimes costs.
- Leave it better than you found it. After a day of riding, the kids use the newly installed water supply to hose down their four wheeler. “If you take care of something, it will last longer,” I remember my dad saying when I was child.
- Creatures really do exist! Our children were so excited and awed when a crawdad was found in the creek. The only mudbugs these kids had seen were at a restaurant, but this was in real life! We aptly named the creek crossing “Crawdaddy Creek.” We’ve come across a variety of animal tracks; a wild turkey roams somewhere in the back acres; and tree frogs sing lullabies while we relax by the campfire. The most unwelcome guest, though, is a traveling alligator (gasp!). We don’t know how he got into the small pond, but we stay away! He likes to leave for months at a time and it’s a mystery as to where he disappears. With all of this, the kids are learning that nature can be exciting yet dangerous, and that education of the land and awareness is key.
- Equipment safety. My oldest son had knife safety training when he was in the Boy Scouts. Now, his brother and cousins are learning how to handle knives and hatchets properly (with adult supervision of course). They’ve worked on carving walking sticks and blazing trails in the pine tree wilderness. Riding safety: helmets and seat belts; and fire safety as well as poisonous foliage awareness are just a few more life lessons being discovered at the land.
- Campfire dinners taste better! Really! Burnt hot dogs with chili warmed in a can has never been so yummy after a long day of riding the land. We are all finding recipes we enjoy cooked by the campfire. A recent discovery introduced by my husband: “hamburger a la foil”: basically hamburger meat and spices all warm and juicy when placed in foil on coals.
- It’s a big, beautiful world. The stars at night! Wow! Under an open canopy of moonlight and bright stars, you start to feel the majesty in this world. Recently, we’ve been finding constellations and planets glowing at night. I love seeing the kids enjoying the beauty around us!
- Family makes for the best of friends. Our family usually gathers on the land on the weekends when my parents come in from work in South Texas. My grandparents and aunt usually make it in as well. The kids are so excited to see their grandparents, great – grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins after a week of work and school. There is usually a large group of us but the simplicity of it all builds a bond that only family (and a few friends) can share.
Soon there will be a house on the land and it will undoubtedly change the way our weekend goes.
A real bathroom, heck yeah! Air conditioning, yes please! But I hope we can still enjoy our outdoor adventures. The land has been a source of joy to my family and we will cherish every memory made. These are special times and we all know it. We thank God for this blessing and the many more blessings to come!