April 25, 2013

Country Kid

a visit to the 'butterfly house' (i can't believe this was only 8 months ago!)

I spent my childhood in an idyllic place, full of natural beauty and so safe that I was free to play with my friends in the stream behind our house until the skies went dark. We built forts, searched for tadpoles, collected tiny pieces of broken bottles and wedged them into an old stone wall so that it sparkled like magic, looked for fairy rings, and got into our fair share of mischief. I never considered myself an 'outdoorsy' kid; I wasn't athletic and preferred to draw and read, but I did have an appreciation for nature that was just part of how I grew up. 

I often think about where we live now, this is where Little Smith is growing and will make his own memories, it's far more urban than my childhood home. I appreciate that we have such easy access to so many cultural institutions and events, that he is experiencing more diversity than I ever did, and I know he loves having exposure to subways and construction sites that only a city can provide. In my soul though, I'm a country girl, and I want my son to respect the natural world, to be immersed the way that I was.

So although we are in a city, I work hard to provide a life that includes lots of 'country air'. We spend days at our community garden (which also happens to be a large and beautiful preserve), we visit local farms at least once a week, we go for walks in the woods, and we even make frequent trips up to New Hampshire and Vermont and back to my home town in western Massachusetts. 

He's still so young, but already Little Smith is at home outside. My mini naturalist, he can identify trees, has some killer bird calls, and is nutty for butterflies- specifically monarch butterflies. He jabbers away constantly about monarch caterpillars and bubberfies, and carries around his plastic versions like they're his babies. Last weekend as we worked in the garden, he ran free, chasing small white butterflies (or moths?) all afternoon. I think he's got a good dose of country in him, and it's a delight to help him discover it all.

22 comments:

  1. Love that red-and-white butterfly on the pink flower! I'll have to take Alice to this place. Although I'd worry that her little baby hands would grab and mutilate one of those beautiful creatures.

    My husband and I both grew up with the outdoors in abundance and we've often talked about having a similar childhood for Alice. As much as I love a bustling city (I fell in LOVE with Chicago last weekend), I am a country girl at heart, too.

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    1. It's sort of a strange place, but the butterflies are amazing (I think they'd be tough to catch, but there are a fair number of tattered wings so I could be wrong!).

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  2. All children need a good dose of country I think! It has so many benefits. The big city offers so much too...in a different way though. Beautiful photos as always x

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    1. Thank you Jane, there are definately trade offs but kids need at least a little country, I think :)

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  3. Gorgeous shots. His big blue eyes are heart melting. I understand what you are saying about city/country life. It sounds like you are perfecting a balance there. I miss living near civilization, so this is mostly crazy talk to me :) (btw, if you love David Sedaris, you should look up and listen to his interview on npr w/Terry Gross earlier this week. He's one of my favs)

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    1. ThanksRuthie. I'm sure if I was far from civilization I'd get cabin fever too (the same way i do when I've been in the city too long). My hometown was a strange anomaly of museums and restaurants and country life... ruined anywhere else for me for life!

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    2. Oh, and I downloaded and very much enjoyed that Fresh Air- thx!

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  4. I couldn't agree more! We are more city than country as well, but you'd better believe we do our best to enjoy the nature that is in our backyard. My boys are happiest outside, hands-down.

    I have been looking at these pictures and am amazed by how much W has changed over the past year. Even though I've never met you and your beautiful family, I feel very protective of you guys! Isn't that funny?

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    1. I'm amazed by how much he's changed too, and I see him everyday. It's crazy! I feel the same way though, having seen pictures of you family several times a week for over a year now, I definately feel like we're friends despite never having met. It's pretty in readable this blogging thing :)

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    2. *increadable that is, but I suppose readable as well ;)

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  5. You do such a better job than I ever did getting country into city life. Perhaps that was a key factor in my need to flee. :) I think Little S is really getting the best of both worlds. Country and city both have so much to offer. I'm already planning a summer trip back to Boston. As much as I love Gus growing up where he is, I want him to get tastes of city life, too.

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    1. It's the only way that I survive in the city! But yes, there are benefits too and I try to keep those in mind. I'm sure I'll be pining for country life with all your summer pics this year.

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  6. He is just gorgeous. I grew up in a city, with a cottage on the lake, so I had the best of both worlds...and I love them both now. My kids are growing up in the suburbs so we have to seek out opportunities to be with nature. ;)

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    1. A city cottage on a lake does sound too perfect, see is that too much to ask for? ;)

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  7. I just recently found your blog and I am LOVING it- what an amazingly beautiful family you have! Thank you for sharing your story and congrats on your pregnancy!

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    1. Aw, thanks so much Tisse. What sweet words to start of this day with :)

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  8. GAAAH! These photos are so lovely and those little Smith cheeks are too delicious. I personally struggle to quell the urge snack on my boys cheeks. I await the day where he's like Enough, already! One thing I love about reading this blog is I get a dose of the country!

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    1. Thank you, baby cheeks are the best. And I know, I think it might be tough to tell how close to the city we really are given how we live... country lovers!

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  9. This post struck a cord with me. I grew up in the suburbs when it was safe to roam and spend the day picking blackberries and crab apples. Although I love nature and the outdoors, I am way more city. I am raising my daughter in San Francisco and I think it is a terrific place to raise a child. But I do truly believe that children need nature and outdoors and I work really hard to provide that for my daughter. I'm lucky that there are lots of opportunities here. We live a few blocks from golden gate park and only about a mile or two from the beach, so that helps. And we take many weekend day trips out of the city. There is a lot of nature that surrounds the city too so I hope she is getting the best of both worlds. It looks like you are doing a wonderful job providing that for your son. :)

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    1. Thanks so much Bronwyn, it's a tough balance but an important one, I think. It sounds like you guys are in a wonderful spot. It was so much more challenging to get out outdoors time in during the winter. I'm hoping that improves as the kid(s) get older, but I was definately envying those of you in a more moderate climate this past winter!

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  10. I love this. I spent much of my childhood in the country off a little gravel road and it really shaped who I am. I'm constantly wondering how I will provide many of those things for Isadora as well and look forward to seeking them out as she grows. We do hope to move from where we currently are in the next five years, hopefully somewhere with a bit more outdoor space and breathing room, but for now we'll be working with what we have. How lovely that you all are able to find so much nature while living in a more suburban/city setting. I'll keep you in mind while looking for nature of our own. :)

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  11. beautiful post. Made me go down memory lane to my child hood and realize how different I am raising my daughter. Makes me want to run home, scoop her up, and take her to some of my favorite childhood places. Thanks a bunch:)

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