See entire August 6, 2010 newsletter

This newsletter is all about fun. I have to write about the joys of sharing our nature experiences with my grandchildren, Madison, age 10 and Liam, age 6. We have been up at our cabin for 5 days and to see nature through their eyes has truly been a great, green, sustainable, “memories for a lifetime” gift. So please humor me as I share some of our excursions, and if you have not already, I invite you to consider making your own with your loved ones.

The setting: There is nothing more precious than time spent being fully present with those you love without the distractions of TV, iPods, video games, cell phones – you name it. Being able to do that in a log cabin, surrounded by forest, at 8200 feet, with a rolling stream within walking distance does not hurt.

Here are some of our top, most fun activities as voted on by the gang of four:

Building a bird’s nest – we have spent hours building just the perfect bird’s nest. Gathering pine needles, twigs, moss, grass and leaves takes hyper focus for a 6 year old. And every morning we check the nest for eggs. Wish I had it on a YouTube video when Liam found one (okay, so Grandma helped a little but it has created magic and magical conversations about birds and eggs and caring for something) He covers it at night!

Walks in the forest – we haven’t had this much rain in years and the wildflowers abound! Looking at them, identifying them, and yes, even picking some because there are so many, brings delight to Grandma’s face when the “surprise” is presented after a long walk with Grandpa. And little ones see everything – the bugs, the butterflies, the birds, the WORMS! They jump up and down over a hummingbird or a blue heron wading in the stream. They are excited – about nature and about being outdoors.

Building a fort – am I really doing this at 60? It takes hours of gathering and planning and building and we are not close to completion. Madison is a planner and very thorough so I find myself following her direction because she has a better picture of how to accomplish our mission than I do! We are all outside, all getting dirty, all laughing and having a blast. And asking ourselves, what would we do without Grandpa?

Feeding the birds (and as a by-product, the raccoons) – You can make fun out of any activity and we do. It’s a ritual. Get the bird food, fill the bird feeders and then sit and watch “the nature channel” perfectly named by Madison. We keep a bird book handy, give names to the chipmunks and squirrels that help themselves to the bird food, and laugh out loud when the Alpha male squirrel chases everyone away.

Forging the stream – this one is harder to describe. The water is high because of all the rain. So imagine really cold rushing water, a fearless 6 year old, an adventurous 10 year old both in their underwear splashing, trying to catch fish with a butterfly net, looking for fish eggs, asking if we can have any fish they catch for dinner (eeewww) and all of us getting totally soaking wet and cold amid peals of laughter. Thankfully, no fish were caught. Good memories indeed.

And what vacation would be complete without a S’mores story? Monday night we were joined by our friends, Joe, Mary, Rachel (12) and Nick (9). We built a fire outside and the great S’mores event began. No – not very green. No organic graham crackers and regular old Hershey bars but sometimes, you just gotta have fun! We decided S’mores are fun but none of us really like them. What we did love was the time spent around the fire, the kids sneaking away to scare us and the overall love and laughter.

Today’s schedule of events: finishing the fort, more stream walking, learning to identify the differences between elk, antelope and deer, and baking Aunt Cherie’s wacky chocolate cake. The kids LOVE being involved with the cooking – no matter what we are preparing. Counting my blessings – every second.

Thanks for indulging Mrs. Green the Grandma. Here is to your family memories – no matter where that paradise may be for you!

P.S. Mr. Green and I are both grateful to our parents for planting the “nature” seeds in the first place.