Find Your Place and Watch It Grow

Sometimes Marko pulls out our laminated map of the United States where it sits, rolled up, tucked in between the refrigerator and the wall. We unroll it on the living room floor and he walks back and forth over it. Laurel traces the lines with her finger, finding "Big Texas" and Chicago and Key West. M and I took our first big road trip when we were in in college, a month long loop following Route 66 for part of the way. We carried little glass vials with us and filled them with sand and water along the way. They sit in our attic, packed away, their labels have been rubbed off so they are vaguely mysterious, although you cannot mistake the silty Mississippi River water for the red dust of Kansas. As a family, we daydream often about our next road trip.

But there are plenty of adventures to be had close to home. When Laurel was Marko's age, we walked her to and from daycare and thus had built-in outdoor exploration time every day. The same 3/4 mile long journey, watching the trees and flowers move through seasonal cycles. Watching the shadows inch their way further and further across the park and then retreating again as winter approaches. 

Marko spends way more time in the car, way more time on my back or on M's shoulders. We don't make time for 2 hours of walking a toddler to and from daycare every day. If you ask Laurel what she wants to do, she will say watch tv. But once you get her outside, she's very comfortable, curious and observant. I want to be able to give Marko the same gift of time. No lesson plans or nature hike. Just traveling from place to place on foot, at one's own comfortable pace.

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