22 April 2011

Our Greatest Teacher

Welcome to the Earth Day Blog Carnival

This post is part of the Earth Day Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction. Each participant has shared their practices and insights of earth friendly, environmentally conscious, eco-living. This carnival is our way to share positive information and inspiration that can create healing for our planet. Please read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Happy Earth Day!

Where we live, the Delaware Canal is easily accessible and it has become a routine for us to take a walk along it every day. I find this to be an infinitely wondrous experience because nature is always providing us with something new to look at, talk about or explore. Our time together in the fresh air is irreplaceable; we may not always be able to spend so much time in a natural habitat such as this one. For this reason, I turn every walk into an enjoyable learning experience because nature is our most treasured teacher.

At our entrance to the Canal, we usually find a pair of ducks floating along in the water or waddling through the grass looking for food. They often follow us as we walk, quacking away and Heidi gets a real kick out of being so close to different animals. I also get to point out to her the differences between the male duck and the female duck every time we see them, how colorful his head is and how interesting her brown markings are. We see and hear a number of other birds on our walk, especially geese, though I do not know much about them, nor can I tell a male from a female.

On another part of the Canal, there is a fallen tree still attached to its roots. We know this because the tips of its branches are budding with new leaves in bright red fluffy bunches. When we pass it, I always have Heidi lightly touch it and tell her that those are where leaves come from and some day we might see them turn green. Along the path we use to approach the Canal is another fallen tree that was completely severed and pulled its roots up from the ground. This too is fascinating because we can not only see how old the tree was, we also get a rare glance at what a tree’s roots look like, how they intertwine and how they made their way through the dirt and around obstacles to find the nutrients they needed.

My favorite lesson of all right now, created by Mother Nature herself, is the one I teach Heidi every time she throws a rock into the Canal. “Look at all the ripples you made!” I tell her and she smiles. “Look how far those ripples are going!” Of course she doesn’t quite understand the meaning yet, but in the future I will use this tool to help her understand how her one, simple action can cause so many reactions that were unintentional. That is why we must always be careful when we choose to disturb the water.

I cannot imagine ever living in a place where nature is not easily accessible. She offers us so many opportunities to learn and grow, breathe deeply and enjoy her beauty. I look for every opportunity available to encourage the same love and respect of nature in my children as I have developed over the years and I hope in time they too look to the Earth to teach them life’s most important lessons.

I make Earth Day every day. Do you?

Earth Day Blog Carnival - Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt JunctionVisit Monkey Butt Junction and Child of the Nature Isle to read all about the Earth Day Blog Carnival.
Going Green in 2011 - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses the way she and her family are going “greener” in 2011.

Our Greatest Teacher - Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares her experiences with her children and nature, their greatest teacher.

Dreaming of Spring Gardening - Erin of the Waterloons talks about the ultimate in local food, her backyard garden.

Earth Conscious Minimalism - Nada at miniMOMist thinks minimalism can help you save the world — as long as you don’t just toss everything in the trash! Check out Her list of places to donate (bet you haven’t thought of them all!).

Blessings to the Earth - Amy at Anktangle believes that a simple act, such as being intentionally grateful for our food, is just the catalyst we need to bring about large-scale change.

Eight Movies to Inspire Change - Mrs Green at Little Green Blog shares her top 8 movies that have inspired her to take action to make the world a better place. She’d love to hear your suggestions to add to her viewing list!

Can I Have a Green Period Too? Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the environmental impact of switching to sustainable menstrual products, along with offering a great Mama Cloth giveaway for anyone interested in making the switch (and for those who already have and want to increase their stash!).

An Eden to Call Our Own - Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how learning to care for the Earth starts in her own garden.

Elimination Communication - Melissa at the New Mommy Files discusses the environmental impact of diapering, and why elimination communication was the best choice for her family.

The Living Earth: A Meditation in Science and Reverence - Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante asks you to pause to wonder at the blessing of the fact that our living planet is here at all.

Earth Day Anthem - Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro created a poem in honor of Mother Earth, women and nurturers everywhere.

The Plasticity of Compromise - Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how she is working to compromise on healthy family living and avoiding plastics whenever possible.

Earth Day Resolutions - Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares why she has decided to make Earth Day resolutions, what those resolutions are, and how they are a step up from her current efforts at green living.

Is it time for you to say “Enough!”? Mrs Green at My Zero Waste asks you to rise up and say ‘Enough!’ on Earth Day.

Homeschooling with the Earth - Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares her desires and dreams for Earth-based learning and the ways her two young children have already started a natural curriculum.

Beyond the Green Sheen - Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction offers some advice on how to avoid greenwashing and make purchasing choices that really have a positive impact.


  1. Awesome post Amanda. I am looking forward to it not being rainy, crappy weather so I can take the girls out into nature. Rain observation is getting a bit old LOL.

  2. The Earth is teaching us, as adults, as well. I firmly believe that her recent cries of pain and anger are a way she is communicating with us that we can no longer treat her as we are.

    And the best way to change our ways is to start with our sons and daughters. To teach them to respect the Earth and to have compassion for all its creatures. You are doing a wonderful job doing this, just by simply walking down by the canal.

    Also, here's how to tell the difference between your geese, though I doubt Heidi is old enough yet:

    "The female will have a slender neck, while the male has a thick neck. Female geese are smaller in size than males, and their heads differ slightly as well. The male head is larger and broader, while the female head is narrow and smaller than the male. In some breeds of geese, such as the Chinese geese, it can be rather easy to tell the difference between the male and female by simply looking at the knob on their heads. Male Chinese geese have a large knob on their heads, while the female doesn't." -- How to Tell Male & Female Geese Apart | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_6313271_tell-male-female-geese-apart.html#ixzz1KFqbQfq6

  3. beautiful post - I think I am feeling exceptionally hormonal today because your post made me cry. There is such power and wisdom in the simple sentence you offer your daughter when you go for a walk. A thousand thanks for sharing sweet mama :)

  4. I love the ripple lesson! We're so lucky to live in areas where we can take walks in beautiful surroundings. Happy Earth Day!

  5. Kudos to you for getting out in Nature! The only way our children are going to grow up to respect our planet is if they get out and EXPERIENCE it. :)

  6. LOVE this post Amanda! You make me so look forward to the day my Bean is old enough to share such things with her. :)

    Especially enjoyed the example of the ripple effect - I am stealing that one, OK?

    I only hope and pray that we continue to hold on to the green spaces that surround us...too many of them have been turned into parking lots! :p

  7. I love this! I really believe that the best to teach environmental stewardship is first by cultivating a love for nature. We get outside a lot, but could definitely do so a lot more - thanks for the inspiration!

  8. WOW! What a beautiful area you live in and how lucky you are to be able to enjoy nature in this way. My daughter loves to throw rocks in our nearby pond and laughs and laughs at the plop sound they make. Children are so close to nature and it is so very special to experience it like you are. Great post!

  9. Your nature walk sounds beautiful and filled with joyful delight for both you and your daughter. I think that your connection to the natural world is creating positive ripples of change - our small actions can have a lot of power too! Happy Earth Day Mama - thanks for joining us in the Blog Carnival.

    Oh and on another note I saw your kids are just 15 months apart...same as mine! So I'm going to scout your blog for posts you've written about this!

  10. Oh, I love that metaphor of throwing rocks into the water! I know your daughter will understand it more and more as she grows. Your daily walk ritual sounds really lovely. I may have to incorporate that into our routine, too. Thank you!

  11. Thanks Terry!

    Absolutely, Nada! I'm not exactly a George Carlin fan, but in one of his specials he talked about how the Earth has survived for thousands and thousands of years and she can take care of herself. As much as I treat her as well as I possibly can, I do also believe that she will continually "put us in our place" and show us who is boss. Too bad people don't usually realize that. Also, thanks for the goose lesson!

    Mrs. Green, I'm both happy and sad that I made you cry :) I'm glad I had enough emotion in this post, but I certainly don't want people to cry on my account! Thank you, though :)

    Charise and Erin, thanks and Happy (Belated) Earth Day to you both!

    Kelly you can steal whatever you want :) I was hoping anyone who reads this would steal that actually because I think things like that can really help shape empathy and responsibility in the next generation.

    Thank you, Melissa and Jennifer!

    That's so cool Terri! I'm going to have to stalk your page as well now... :)

    Amy, incorporate away! :)

  12. I love this post for the Earth Day carnival! It is so spot on for teaching kids to protect the earth. Bringing them out into nature and allowing them to explore will give them such a love of the outdoors. They'll long to protect it when they're older. I really like your idea about the roots and the ripples on the pond. She'll get her interconnection and effect on everything on a spiritual level

  13. Thank you, Zoie. Today was extra special because they got to eat Dandelions....that really puts them up close and personal :)