A Day Outside
After every Midwestern winter comes a brief solace, where warm air pushes out the cold, the last snow pile sinks into the ground and we all stammer squinty-eyed out of our caves and into the sun. This weekend was that for us in Illinois.
I drove the kids to the woods, put food in their mouths and led them down the trails. The ground was soft, the air was crisp and the lack of wifi and Netflix went unspoken.
The boy stayed close, for fear of imaginary bees and wasps, with the unexpected exception being the time he ventured close to the muddy banks of the Sangamon River, and promptly fell in. He stayed even closer after that.
The girl, however, found her own path. Every tree was a playground. Each vine a swing. Her boundless adventurousness was absolutely captivating.
She needed no direction, no rules and no limits. She wasn't impressing anyone. She wasn't doing it for Facebook. There was no pretense.
It was play for the sake of play. And it was beautiful.
It's something we all used to do, and I think we all share a deep, if not quiet, yearning to do again. To just go out into the forest, or into the mountains, or the desert, and just simply play. No objects, no games, no rules. Simply play.
But we feel uncomfortable. We are too grown-up for that. We're too out of shape for that. We worry what the others who see us would think. We worry about failing, falling, hurting. We worry about getting our shoes muddy. We stay safe.
And so we walked. And despite my well-intentioned yet conditioned parental pleas of "watch out" and "be careful", she played. Her limits were her own. And I hope she forever retains her adventure's soul.