Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Finding Nature

Living in a city, I often feel the need to escape, and to find some bit of nature, no matter how small. Luckily, Portland is situated in an amazing part of the country, and we have so much access to wilderness: forests, rivers and ocean. Sometimes, however, we don't have the luxury of enough time to drive an hour or more to seek out these treasures. And on those days, we do the best with what is close and easily accessible. Sometimes that is playing on the bank of a not particularly pristine river, or walking through a wetland surrounded by industry. And sometimes, these little gems in the rough are the best places of all, because you can see, that even amidst human development and pollution, nature still thrives, and is ready to take over the second it is given a chance.
Anyways, the resilience of nature was not actually my intention when I sat down to write this post. Rather, I was thinking of how easily children are occupied in nature. If I bring my kids to the beach or a river, or even to a pile of dirt or rocks that they can dig in, they will literally play for hours. Happy, immersed in their own thoughts. Sticks become props, treasures are found, ideas are discovered. In the comfort of our cozy home, toys that were coveted for months are played with for a few minutes at a time before becoming boring. Others barely even make it out of the packaging. This is not to say that all toys are like this; Finn can (and has) played with his legos for hours on end, and books, markers and stuffed animals are all well loved in our home too. But outside, there is always something to find, something to do, something to explore. So on those days when my kids don't want to go on a hike or for an adventure, I still make them go. And you know what? They (almost) always have fun once they are there.  

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  1. So true! Water is magic. I often push my kids out into the yard with a large bowl (hose and sticks being the other key ingredients) and it is often enough to entertain them for hours. I agree, the northwest is beautiful. Sometimes I think I spent more time outside though when I lived in the flat midwest with all of the snow. it does take a bit more effort these days in all the rain. great reminder. have a good weekend.

  2. You know how much I agree with you on this one. Mother Nature is the best playground in the world, and so many beautiful treasures are right there just waiting to be played with.

  3. That is so true. We almost always have fun when we go for a walk - even though they often initially don't WANT to go. Same with the allotment, once they start digging in mud, or racing along the paths, or exploring the little woodland close by they are happy and busy. And one of the things they always enjoy most about the outdoors is water - puddles, mud, streams to make dams in, etc. :)

  4. I totally agree with you! Nothing like being outdoors. Jumping up and down in muddy puddles, running up and down the field.... so healthy!!

    Happy weekend!

    Lluisa xoxo

  5. So true! Escape the world of televisions and technology and get out into nature. Love the pictures!

    -Living chemical free.

  6. This really hit home for me, but I don't really know where to have quick access to nature, I'm more experienced with day hikes.

    Where are your favorite spots to take the kids for quick trips?

    1. Hi! So-- we spend a lot of time at Oaks Bottom, Sellwood Park (over by Oaks Park), Mary S Young is awesome (but a little farther... I actually have a bunch of places that are about an hour away that are great). Tualatin nature park is good when you want something easy. I also like the trails by the audobon society at forest park, smith and bybee wetlands, and of course, mt. tabor. I try and mix things up so we don't get bored.