Bush Kids

Children and Nature

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Spring

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And just like that, on the first day of Spring the first egg appeared in a laying box. After the long winter laying hiatus, the discovery of the first egg felt symbolic of the burgeoning growth, new life, and unfurling which comes with the new season.

We have had a cold Winter this year, with some cracker frosts and lots of snow. The first day of Spring a couple of weeks ago was still brisk, but there was a hint of warmth in the sun – enough for the twins to insist on donning shorts, though there was no baring of skin for me. One of the things we love most about living here is that each season is so distinctive, and we have developed rituals and habits to match.

Springtime finds us spending a lot more time in the garden. We encourage the kids to help out so that we can be out there longer, and they usually engage in a bit of ineffective raking, lots of digging, and sifting through any edible plants to eat whatever they can, before moving on to ride their bikes or to climb trees. Still, it is certainly true that if we are doing something active outside, so are they.

The shift towards outdoor meals is already occurring. Picnics, bbqs, dinner on the verandah, and lots and lots of meals around the outside fire are one of the pleasures of the longer days and mild weather of the season.

It is also a great time of year for camping – not so many snakes, mozzies, flies or searing midday sun. Soon it will be warm enough for swimming and yet still cool enough to linger round the campfire. All the pleasures without so many of the discomforts.

Here are some moments from our first taste of Spring.

The proud finder of the first egg, who claimed eating rights immediately. The next morning as he dipped his toast soldiers he declared ‘we only have real eggs, don’t we, not supermarket eggs’. Nothing like inculcating a bit of food snobbery at an early age.
The twins have resumed playing in their cubby, which is too cold through the Winter. They have seemingly transported their entire fleet of toys, dolls and teddies out there, and Scarlett decorated their rusty table complete with flowers for lunch.

Caught up in the energy of spring cleaning, we even gave the dog a wash.
The celebratory mood even extended to sneaking in a midweek bbq on our outside fire, in honour of the new season. We are all feeling excited about so many more meals outside as Spring unfolds.

52

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The 52 Project: a portrait of my children, once a week, every week (most weeks) in 2015. Cass: a fallen tree made the perfect hide-out
Dash: never, ever, without a stick. There is a collection in every corner of his room, in his schoolbag, and at various points throughout the house and garden. Jem: wherever his brothers lead, he follows.Scarlett: not feeling very well, huddled by the fire on a Friday afternoon – the first on in a while which was warm enough (mercifully not windy) to linger outside until dusk

52

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The 52 Project: a portrait of my children, once a week, every (most) weeks in 2015.
Cassidy: morning hair and a dawn departure for a day of ski cross racing. It was wet and slushy up on the slopes and they returned soaked to the skin.

Scarlett and Jem: the twins wielding a big umbrella is a dangerous thing
Dash: The wet and windy weather is on cue for the last month of Winter – so we always have a thermos on hand and a fire to warm up by if we are outside. This is the chief fire lighter.

52

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The 52 Project: a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2015.
Jem: marshmallow lips
Dash: our boy of the bush
Cass: building his fort
Scarlett: pigtail girl

52

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The 52 Project: a portrait of my children, once a week, every (most) weeks in 2015.

Portraits in Motion: a week of hiking, canyoning, running, riding, skiing and exploring.
Dash: leaping from ‘island’ to ‘island’ in the creek
Cass: canyoning down the slippery side of the gorge

Scarlett: bounding down the trail
Jem: finding boulders to climb

Bush Parkour

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Parkour: A philosophy and training method for movement through any environment at speed. The concept is to overcome all physical and mental obstacles in your path by using your body and mind to run, climb, jump and vault.

Children are constantly pushing at and expanding their physical and mental limits as they move through their environments. As they explore the landscape around them, our four kids are in constant motion; running, jumping, climbing, springing up and off and over trees, boulders and creeks. Having been very impressed by a few Youtube videos of parkour, they like to pretend they are practising this art of navigating obstacles with incredible flexibility, strength, discipline and agility. Perhaps they may be traceurs in the making, or maybe this is just simple bush life at its best, as practised by four happy children.

Sticks and Dragons

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In an attempt to prevent the usual flurry that accompanies the first morning back at school after the holidays, I was up late locating school hats and missing drink bottles when I discovered this: a 6 year-olds school back-pack full of things gathered during the holidays. There were sticks, gum nuts, a large stone, lumps of charcoal, acorns, autumn leaves, bottle tops, a peg, bits of wire, a rusty horseshoe, a knight and a dragon. Evidence of holidays spent outdoors, of adventures experienced and treasures found along the way.

When the owner of the bag discovered the next morning that his treasures had been unpacked, his immediate response was “where are my sticks?”. Tempting though it was, I know this little fellow better than to throw out his treasures. Even the sticks, it seems, have a particular character and use – as a wand, a staff, or, in this case, as a barricade in a tree house.

Instead of being glad when the kids return to school after the holidays, I usually feel quite heavy-hearted that the days of freedom are at an end, that it is time to return to classroom-based learning and a rigid curriculum. We all cherish the holiday freedom which allows the kids to immerse themselves in the forests and creeks that surround our home, or sometimes further afield.  Days to ride and climb. Days to linger and read. Days to wander and explore. Days of sticks and dragons.

Fortunately the kids don’t appear to share my feelings, and seem happy enough when the start of term swings around again, and excited about swapping holiday stories with their friends. How do you feel when it is time for the kids to return to school?

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