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Friday, February 28, 2014

Re-acquainting Yourself with Nature

By Trey Burley


treesThe middle of winter can be a frustrating time for those that love the outdoors. Upon first impression, the winter season is cold, dark and has very little for people to do. However, once you look past the bleakness and tap into your five senses, you’ll discover a whole new world of sights sounds and winter activities that you can take part of – right in your own backyard.  

Go for a walk. You don’t have to go for a long walk, a short walk around your neighborhood or back yard will suffice. Take a second to take in the nature that surrounds you. Point out the little details to your children, like how beautiful the trees look covered in fresh snow, the sound of snow crunching under your feet, or the fresh, crisp smell in the air after a snowfall. This is the perfect time of year for your kids to tap into their senses and see, hear and smell the beauty of winter.

Sit down and listen. Don’t forget about your other senses when you’re outside this winter season. Assuming that it is warm enough outside, take a few minutes to sit down and listen to your surroundings. Sound travels faster and farther in winter, because often times, there is less activity outdoors making it easier to hear things that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to. Have your children point out and guess where the various sounds are coming from. Listen carefully and you may be able to hear the beautiful sound of birds singing, small animals running through your yard, or even the sound of snow melting as it drips off your patio.

Feed the animals. Birds and small animals that have made your backyard their home need to eat during the wintertime too. Next time you have leftover bread, don’t throw it out! Instead, store it in a Ziploc® Brand Sandwich Bag and use it to feed your outdoor companions. Put some bread crumbles out and take a seat about 20 feet away.  Sit back, relax and watch as the beautiful birds enjoy their treat. Consider making this DIY bird feeder as a fun day craft for you and your children.

Trim those trees. Yes, winter is the perfect time to trim the trees in your backyard. This is especially beneficial if you have small, ornamental trees that don’t require much more than a pair of trimming shears. Consult with a professional at your local gardening store to ensure this option is best for your plant. Then, carefully inspect your tree and find the portions of the tree that are too thick or dead and trim them down to prepare them for the upcoming spring season.

Prepare your garden. As the snow starts to melt, and although it may be too cold to start gardening, it’s never too early to prepare the area. If you have pine or gum trees in your backyard, you already have some work ahead of you. Gum balls and pine cones are annoying, a tripping hazard and will produce seedlings where you don’t want them. Picking them up ahead of time will help save time once spring arrives. Then you can focus on keeping up with your blooming garden.

How do you re-acquaint yourself and your children with nature during the winter season? What additional outdoor activities do you take part in?

Photo courtesy of Trey Burley.

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