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10 Childlike Ways to Connect with Nature

6. Listen for a bird. What else can you hear? Squirrels carousing in tree branches. Chipping sparrows. Grackles. Magpies. Prairie dog whistles. Water burble. One goose honking. My splooshy shoes slipping through slush & mud.

7. Find a place where an animal would be happy. Only one? Favorite: warm, partly sheltered riverbank bend is a year-round duck and goose spa. There are five blue bee hives on a hill. Three prairie dog towns thrive in spite of the hawks.

8. How many different colors can you find? Knee-deep bright green grass grows thick along the streambed and under the cottonwoods. The path is cappuccino colored. “Duck spa” is dotted with dark chocolaty spongy places where they’ve mucked it up. See-through lime-tinted cottonwood leaves are in their early stages. Prairie dog town is a mix of light brown dirt piles around the holes and deep green weeds across the abandoned lot. Blue bee hives stand out on the hill. The creek runs clear; dappled rocks shine under the water.

9. Dig in the ground with your hand or flip over a rock or log. Mucky leaves under the log. Wet dirt. Corner of a leaf. Mud.

10. Find something that moves. Always moving water, even in winter. Birds flitting & shouting. Prairie dog running from holes A to B. Tail twitch of a squirrel. The owls fly away.

A co-worker suggests that I return to the creek with a “geeky science type” who will identify what’s there, using the Latin names. That highly educated person would observe disturbances, suggest areas for restoration, and comment on the state of the creek’s health.

I’m not interested in that. As Momaday suggests, I will touch, wonder, dwell, imagine and remember. I’ll download the next in the series of Treasure Hunts, and continue to take the exploration slowly, paying attention to the little things right in front of me. I have all the time in the world.

I will imprint these five miles so deeply on my consciousness that they appear in my dreams.

You don’t need a personal creek to connect with nature—you can do the treasure hunt in any park, garden, back yard or plot of urban land near you!

Jeannie Patton is the program coordinator for The Nature Conservancy’s LANDFIRE project, providing administrative, communications and web support. She is an enthusiastic skier, hiker and river rafter.

(Image 1: Exploring a creek. Source: Erika Nortemann/TNC. Image 2: Coal Creek. Source: Jeannie Patton/TNC.)

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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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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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