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This past weekend we spent  most of our moments outside. My family took advantage of the glimmering sunshine and the crisp breeze. On Saturday morning, my daughter participated in an Easter egg hunt. Even though she is eight, she enjoyed scrambling across the green lawn picking up colored goodness. She remained focused on her goal, smiling every time she scored an egg and chucked into her basket. As I watched her collect her bounty, I smiled, witnessing a freedom that accompanies childhood. This is what it means to be a child, I thought to myself.

On Saturday evening, we decided to enjoy a local outdoor culinary festival in town. We spread our blanket on the lawn and sat on the grass for hours. In the background, a live band played music. I jammed to some of my eighties favorites, like Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer to some more contemporary hits. My daughter ran around the green lawn and did cartwheels and played tag with some friends. A breeze accompanied our revelry. Looking around, I saw young toddlers wobbling around trying to gain their footing in the grass, while some of the adults took to the outdoor dance floor. The band grabbed the hand of an elderly woman who started to belt her version of the song on the stage. The texture of her smile extended across the crowd.

The next morning we ventured to a local trail where we hiked for a few hours. My daughter ran ahead, exploring the various flowers and desert landscape. She steadied herself on the rocks, while I watched from behind. When we reached a point where we could stop, I took a picture and captured the grandeur of our environment. The vastness surprised me even though I knew that the beauty appeared to unfold every time I turned my head toward a different direction.

These snapshots of a weekend spent outdoors provided a context to my own childhood experiences. My childhood was spent indoors, where I played school or read. Adventure never took root in those early years. My parents because of their immigrant experience felt more comfortable with entertainment that took place indoors. In their mind, a perceived danger existed on the sidewalk or the creek or the park. I grew up with the adage, “It is better to be safe, than sorry.”

My upbringing created a resistance in embracing the outdoors. It wasn’t until my thirties that I appreciated the tranquility of the outdoors. Running in the morning offered a chance to view beginnings in a way I hadn’t before. The blue sky, the rabbits scurrying along my pathway, and the landscape of cacti and bougainvillea provided the perfect backdrop for my runs. When motherhood entered, I found myself taking my daughter to parks and watching how she view the natural environment with so much wonder. Moving to a place where the landscape lends itself to magnificent views, year round, my focused turned toward really sinking into the grandeur of the outdoor and how much solace and freedom it can offer.

What is your relationship with the outdoors? Has it changed ?

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