Morton Arboretum: A Connection to Home

Northern Ontario, my childhood home, is dotted with woods.
Trees and rock and water - that's what you see. Walking amongst trees is perhaps one of my favorite things to do and I suppose it has a big something to do with how I was raised.

Until I was 7 we lived in Goulais River, Ontario, and I could look out my bedroom window and see the woods. (And hence the fear of big bears - cuz they were there and I saw them with my own eyes). We played in the woods. We took snow machine rides through the woods. We got our own Christmas tree in our woods. (That is, until that fateful, fateful year. 1973. That's called a 'hook' to keep you visiting my blog. I'll be telling that story come December!)

And then, we moved to Thessalon and while we lived in town, my best friend Jenny lived on a farm, with woods which we explored constantly. We also owned a farm out in the country, near Iron Bridge (not really sure how that all came about being as poor as we were) that had woods, where we made maple syrup. (I'll have to blog about that, too, because that was another one of those dream childhood things. Like, really - we made lots and lots of maple sugar. We would fly across the top of the snow on our snowshoes ... back into the woods ... where we would collect the sap from the trees ... I'll save it for another post.)

In any event, being in the woods is pretty amazing to me. The smells. The sights. The colors. Honestly, it brings me right back to my years as a younger child. So, in the fall, one of my favorite things to do is go out to the
Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL, and walk through the woods with the kids.
So on Monday morning we packed up a picnic lunch and met my friend Catherine and her two youngest girls and we walked, at the kids' pace, for hours,
through the woods.
As a little aside, I have met my match in spontaneity with my friend Catherine.
Catherine and Olivia
I'm so enjoying getting to know her. While we're different in personality, we've got so many similarities in things we enjoy doing. We've become friends through our husbands' friendship. She's sporty and outdoorsy and spontaneous and she loves Jesus and is trying to live to please Him, and she's an example of a great mommy to me. On Sunday we ran into each other at church and she said, in an adventurous sort of way, "It's supposed to be nice tomorrow. Wanna go to the Arboretum?" And I said, "Yep." Without even looking at my calendar. And in all honesty, had there been something on my calendar, I would have had to cancel because I couldn't miss out on an opportunity to walk through the fall woods with my friend. One of my last opportunities until the warmth of spring. And then Wednesday rolled around and I had some errands to run after dropping Maddie off at school, and at one point I said to Jackson in the backseat, "Bud, do you wanna go walk through the woods again?" And he said, "YES!" Very loudly.
So we did.
We ditched the errands (those can wait until its cold and rainy). We got out our favorite Jack Johnson cd (again). We rolled down the windows. And off we went. (Unfortunately, I didn't have a cell phone so I couldn't call a friend to go along, but Jackson and I enjoyed our sweet time together.) At one point I ran into a lady and asked her to take a picture of us.
She smiled sweetly and said sure and then said, "I miss my boys. They're 31 and 29 now. I was just in North Carolina walking through those woods with them. Enjoy your time with your son because it does go so quickly."
We talked about the beauty of God's creation. His magnificence is what she said. And I quickly agreed. What a sweet little blessing to run into a lady that appreciates God's goodness in giving us nature and little boys. Here's Jackson trying to catch falling leaves. He came up with this all on his own.
For whatever reason, he loved this bench. He loved jumping off it. He loved laying on it. He loved eating our picnic side-by-side on it. And it was perfect because the bench was just plopped down in the middle of the woods.
Perfect I say.
So, there you have it. Perhaps you could call it my comfort zone. (that and Diet Coke - let's not kid ourselves.)The woods. Every tree different. A million shades of brown and green and orange and yellow and red. A poignant reminder of home and the incredible privilege it was to grow up in the beauty of Northern Ontario, Canada.

My hope is that by my being intentional about getting Maddie and Jackson out in nature, that they'll one day look back and remember that even though they lived in the cement jungle of Chicago, they had brushes with nature very, very regularly.


Mae said…
You made me homesick for northern Ontario. I'm so glad that you have these awesome times with Jackson out in nature.
Alice said…
Lovely, lovely pictures! What great memories you are creating for them. And your childhood sounds like a "Little House" book. Can't wait to read the upcoming blog entries!

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