Walking in the woods with kids is not to be confused with taking a hike. The world that exists under the canopy of an old growth forest is akin to a magical fairy land when you take the time to meander. I took the youngest grand ones on a nature walk last week, on a trail that skimmed the edge of the Lake Roesiger, wove through the trees, and crossed a couple of rustic bridges. Watching them explore, and teaching them the names of native growth, reminded me of my own youth spent exploring the twenty acres I grew up on. It also reminded me that a person doesn’t automatically know a fern is a fern or a horsetail is a horsetail… somebody has to teach the names. It was such a pleasure to point out my favorites, such as salmon berries, (yummm), and to be on the look out for stinging nettles, (ouch!)
Even coming across some trash left behind was an adventure. “Oh no! Look what the litterbuggers left! Clean up, clean up!!” And we all gathered the litter and continued on our way, making a mental note to bring a bag with us next time. There is a sense of wonder as we check out different shapes of fungus clinging to the trunk of a cedar tree. Thick moss on a log becomes a velvet cushion and a black and yellow centipede becomes the pied piper as we follow him for a bit, amazed by his many legs.
Lime Kiln trail was a beautiful walk in nature. Being partly on the old Monte Cristo Railroad grade, there were remnants of industry long since discarded and the shreds of history left behind. No hurries, no worries, not only was there time to ponder the men who made a living here more than one hundred years ago, but also to see how Mother Nature reclaims her own if we leave her to it. If it wasn’t for faded pictures at the trailhead, you wouldn’t believe a railroad once chugged along the bank of Stillaguamish River.
Not having children of her own, Rachel Carson borrowed her nephew to share in the joys of discovery. “…to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it…” Reading and knowing these words are true, I borrow my grandchildren for companionship and to take a peek through their eyes. When I do, I rediscover the mysteries of the wildness and remember the days that I so enjoyed as a kid in the woods at the bottom of Bunk Foss Road. To spend time with them and pass on my love of nature to the next generation is a gift to all of us.