We are back in town after a long stay in the countryside.
Those 4 months were intense, beautiful and tech free! We didn´t even have an oven, so we became experts in baking bread and cookies in the pan! Anyhow, this post is not about emergency cooking recipies, therefore you got my in-law (don´t miss her cooking blog). It´s not about countryside photography either, therefore you got my mom (her photo blog is beautiful).
This humble post is about what I could see from my kitchen window, beyond the house limits, in a world where kids had no TV, no internet, no phone, no mobile, no playstation… A tech free playful life! More specifically, this post is about how my kids rediscovered, enjoyed and loved trees.
It took them some time to realize trees were something they could interact with. The first weeks they explored the surroundings wanting to do the usual things they were used to: they asked us to take them to the playground and wanted to ride their bikes and skates on the road side (actually on the road, there was no “side” at all, but no traffic either).
It surprised me how many scrapes, minor cuts and bruises they collected in their feet and legs during this period. This brought me to think they were “city” kids, who never had a true extended opportunity to roam around freely, barefooted, without my constant warning advises behind. I trusted them, though. So I resisted the temptation to confine them into the house and they quickly developed the necessary skills to keep themselves safe during their games.
Slowly, they stopped asking for a daily visit to the playground and they started to realize there was a great world of play opportunities all around them, in front of their eyes. First thing they noticed was they could climb a big bush which they named “The Fat Sumo”. They literally went into the bush, took position on different branches and started moving them as the arms, legs and head of a big fat sumo wrestler.
It took three to four kids to complete the task and they spent hours and days repeating the game. Unfortunately the bush was not used to such high risk experiences and its left arm-branch broke. So we kindly invited them to explore real trees to climb and play with, remembering them trees are living creatures too.
From then on they chose a Weepping Willow as a King´s Court (throne included), a Shade Tree became a swing and a riding horse and some sort of Medlar was transformed into a den wherefrom some “fruit munitions” flew into the open field (some reached me and let me tell you the word munition applies perfectly well here). Finally, a beautiful Sweetgum in its Fall dress became the Everest, but only the older child in the troupe made it to the summit.
They didn´t left behind any tree to explore and play with. But the old grumpy Chestnut. It was that time in the year when the tree drops it´s distinctive spiny fruit shells to the ground… did I mention kids were barefooted all day long? One or two stings were enough to establish safe zone limits.
So there it was, as a Selfish Chestnut Giant, standing alone, sorrounded by it´s own natural barrier, keeping kids at a distance. But as Oscar Wilde knew (and we parents all know) kids are not easily discouraged, specially when it comes about limits. Actually, kids love barriers… just to be able to cross them and see what´s up on the other side. And this is precisely what happened.
Slowly, very slowly, autumn neared winter and the good old Chestnut tree run out of its porcupine like little bombs and the field was cleared. Our gardener helped a lot, ignorant of the love battle that was going on he did score the final goal kids needed to win the game.
Helpless and naked, the tree surrendered. For good.
It became the most adored, trusted and cared for tree in the world. In my kids world at least. They lived great adventures around it and asked me to read them fun stories while sitting on its bare branches.
Finally, one sunny autumn afternoon it became the most fashionable spiritual Grandpa Tree there has been. Kids had organized a fest in its honor. They decorated the branches with silk wool and polyester wadding, wrote little love letters to hung on the threads, made invitations for neighbors, created tree masks and prepared fresh lemonade for everyone (I did help a bit with the little boy´s mask and cutting the lemons into halves). The lady opposite our home brought a copper inverted pyramid containing dry dung, rice and clarified butter (ghee) and offered us to burn a small fire praying for the healing of the Earth. She explained this was called HOMA Therapy. We accepted.
So there we were, experiencing joy, unity and peace, praying for the healing of the Earth under the Great Tree our kids learned to conquer…
Recalling the whole experience I don´t feel anymore like advocating for the importance of playing in nature which was my first idea when I started writing this post. I don´t know you, but what my heart is whispering into my mind right now is a simple question: am I ready to release my well fostered ill-feelings towards thorny life experiences? Are you ready? I hope we all are. A true natural love story might be waiting behind.