As everyone seems to be heading inside to school, we are almost giddy to get outside, what with the (slightly) cooler September weather. Note to self: Next year, choose all educational materials in April and be ready with lots of indoor studies and activities for July and August. What an over-abundance of good indoor time we had this summer!! Now that September and October are upon us, the last thing we want is to be holed up in the house even more. So, out we go.
For her birthday, Molly received the most darling little gardening tote from her grandma-with-the-green-thumb, complete with hat, gardening gloves, pail and shovel. She adores it - and, loving dirt as much as the next kid, she loves to get out in the garden and use her tools.
Now, you may have noticed that the owners of the house keep the yard manicured to almost park-like standards - so much that when we go out walking in the neighborhood, the boys will say things like, "Look, Mom!! A stick! Can we bring it home?" Yes, it is that bad. So it can be a little tricky to allow them to dig up Paradise. At the same time, I simply can't bring myself to get between a boy with a shovel and his patch of dirt. It's such a necessary part of childhood.
So, into the (manicured, mulched) garden we went today. And boy, can those kids dig! I thought that they might make a few holes, but it started to look like an excavation site for something like a football arena or a mega-hotel. Need a few yards of dirt moved? Hand a kid a shovel!
They buried things in the dirt and then dug them up again. They dug up some tree roots and then tried to "follow" them to the tree, which I had to stop in order to save the yard. A few grubs and worms were unearthed. That was just in the first 20 minutes. Then, Phase II, experimentation.
The drive to experiment seems to necessitate that environments will inevitably be mixed. What I mean is: why do you have to put dirt in every conceivable location? To see what it will look like? Dirt on the patio. (Nooo!)
Dirt on the bikes. (Ewww!) On the toddler slide. (Uh uh.) You see where this goes. My gentle admonitions took on a few more decibels as I tried to keep it off people's heads and out of the house.
Then, someone added water!! Mud!! Joy, rapture, every child's dream!
Once this happened, many more adventures ensued. Some decibels were added yet again. Eventually, everyone landed in the bath, which boasted a nice deposit of dirt of its own when we were through. I almost brought in the shovel for that, too. But instead I went outside and tried to make things look sort of nice again... until next time.
There will be lots of "next times" in the months ahead. It's a long time until winter in Kentucky. Fall is my favorite season and it's almost impossible for me to stay indoors on beautiful days. In spite of my natural urge to keep things somewhat clean and neat (read: under control), I get great satisfaction from knowing that the kids have spent the afternoon in the dirt. I hope that love and respect for nature grows deep into their souls and brings them joy and awe, not only during childhood, but all of their lives.