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10 Childlike Ways to Connect with Nature

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Coal Creek is about 25 feet at its broadest, but mainly it’s in the six-to seven-foot range. The trail winds through a riparian ecosystem; therefore, cottonwoods, cattails, bulrush and other grasses are thick. The air smells punky in all seasons, especially when autumn/winter’s pungent odors of rot, renewal and revegetation take over.

It’s overhung and shady for the first mile, and then opens to the edge-of-the-prairie flat landscape of western plains, with Denver to the southeast. The Rocky Mountain Continental Divide stands like a wall to the west. Horizon-wide views expand in all directions from the high point, a small rise that makes a fine sledding hill.

I know some things from merely seeing and listening with no particular purpose: a fox lives nearby — it scoots away when I approach. Ubiquitous coyotes party all summer and most of autumn. A pair of geese hangs around near what I call the “duck bridge,” and owls watch walkers from the high reaches of cottonwoods standing at the trailhead. Prairie dogs are plentiful, as are hawks, thus keeping things in balance.

That’s it. And so to the Treasure Hunt:

1. Find something round. Easy. I collect creek rocks. They rest on the fireplace mantle, make up the centerpiece of the dining room table, sit in the gear shift box of my car and are arranged in a mini-sandbox on my desk at work. Though I know it’s against the “leave things in place” rule, there are plenty to spare. Forgive me.

2. Jump like a frog, growl like a bear and flap your wings like a bird. Well why not? When no one is looking, and quickly.

3. What’s the smoothest thing you can find? Other than aforementioned creek stones: a peeled cottonwood branch, silvery and dead for ages.

4. Discover evidence that an animal has been here. Sorry to say, dog poop–an ongoing problem when humans don’t take care of doggie business. Prairie dog holes. Duck feathers on the creek bank.

5. Find something that smells good or bad. Very good smell: pungent, rotting, wet leaves. Very bad smell: the dog poop I mentioned.

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4:57AM PDT on May 31, 2014


2:42AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

I used to be a nanny in the city to 2 children, and when I walked the elder child to primary school I would the take his sister to her nursery school up the road. On the way we had to pass the cemetery, and although not the first place you would think to take a child, it did work. We would sit awhile, picking daisies, which i would then make into necklace, bracelet and crown for her. While there we would watch the birds come and go, and sometimes even saw foxes. Then she would skip into her nursery, and be the envy of all the other little girls who wanted to come to the cemetery with us!

12:21AM PST on Feb 5, 2013


12:20AM PST on Feb 5, 2013


8:25AM PST on Nov 15, 2012

If there are ducks around, feed them. Remember to bring bread crumbs!

8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Delightful as Nature is generally calming and tranquil. There is a lot of it only ten minutes away from where I live. Easy to be with and lose oneself in, getting away from a more hectic world even if it is a small town. So many things to see and do. Be gentle to the environment.

7:36AM PDT on May 23, 2012

I like to be childlike and connect with nature too! I take my kids camping or to my brother's farm so they can enjoy the outdoors like I did when I was a kid growing up in a small town. Can't beat it!

8:18AM PDT on May 22, 2012

I still love "playing" and I'm 65.
Remember "Peter Pan", and go for it

1:20PM PDT on May 21, 2012

Nature is healing.

1:44PM PDT on May 20, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

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