Get to know October’s “Outdoor Family”
by Nicolette Bond
Children don’t necessarily see nature as something separate from them. I was lucky enough to grow up with parents who encouraged me to run barefoot in the rain, howl at the moon, and play in the mud. My husband and I hope to preserve that connection for our two-year-old daughter Cora and “re-wild” our own hearts.
We are blessed to live on a 60-acre homestead in West Michigan. Here, we’re busy growing our own food and developing Honeybird Farm, a sustainable home to many a happy animal. The cold might scare off a lot of people, but this is my dream state. Every year of my childhood, we drove from Indiana up to Michigan’s North Woods for family vacation. My soul is netted with driftwood, Petoskey stones and sand from those summers.
Although we are in a region known for its trails, skiing, canoeing and camping, I would say our biggest adventures take place right in our backyard. For us, getting outside is about free, unstructured play and exploration. But, just as important are our attempts to reintegrate and give context to our environment. We try to gather our own wild medicines, heat our house with wood from the forest, and get our hands deep in the soil. I’m not saying we don’t want to go kayaking down the Rogue River, but it’s our day-to-day experiences that transform us right now.
It’s amazing how every family establishes their own unique bond with nature. For us, it’s the little things: bundling up Cora every night to sing “Twinkle to Twinkle Little Star,” naming the wild turkeys in our hay field, letting the fish “kiss” our fingertips in the pond, and theorizing why one of our chickens did this or that.
Reintegrating nature into our routines isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s not exactly popular to have your infant nap outside. But, we have another little girl due in May (and yes, I’ll be choosing a super-crunchy name for her), and I hope to have her barefoot and sleeping under the maple tree, ASAP.
A few months ago I created wilderchild.com, a blog focused on celebrating every child?s relationship with nature and getting families outside. It really is a labor of love. Writing keeps me committed to raising an outdoor family while staying connected to others who can’t imagine a life lived indoors.