April brings us back to nature and the Earth. Earth Day, National Teach Children to Save Day, and National Kite Month are April reminders about the wonderful playground our world outside gives us.
Heading outdoors for a nature or tree identification walk certainly brings us back to nature.
Check out a tree identification book and head outside with your children. Take your binoculars with you and identify some birds along the way, too.
More than 125 years ago, Nebraska journalist J. Sterling Morton thought up the idea of setting aside a day to plant trees, thus Arbor Day. The tradition and day continues.
How about planting a tree with your children? Each of our children has a special tree that they have helped plant. Each tree has a name chosen by its rightful planter, and we continue to watch each of these trees grow as our children grow.
Our youngest daughter chose a willow; my son, a Canadian cherry, and our middle daughter a linden. We have also planted a tree, a red splendor crab apple, in honor of my sister-in-law who passed away almost 10 years ago. In honor of my father, who passed away about five years ago, we planted an ash tree, which was his favorite tree.
In remembrance of my mother, who recently passed away, there is a special crab apple that stood right outside of her window.
She diligently watched this tree flower its white petals each spring. Each year, she would also make crab apple sauce with these apples, that her grandchildren would continue to pick for her when she no longer could.
Each time we look at these trees, it reminds us of the beautiful lives of our loved ones.
Dwarf trees can also be planted in containers that can thrive on a porch, deck, or balcony if you are not able to plant a tree in your yard.
How about planting some flowers and plants that attract butterflies? Ask any greenhouse owner or worker and they can help you out with what plants attract butterflies.
Try planting some herbs that you can use to cook with or to garnish your food, tea, or lemonade.
You can also make a sun catcher with the petals from your flowers. Cut out a piece of waxed paper or clear laminating paper (clear shelf lining paper)in any shape you wish, and add the petals to the stick laminating paper, or glue to the waxed paper.
Punch a hole and hang from a string in the window. If you want to make this, but don’t have flower petals, just cut out petal shapes from colored tissue paper and adorn to the waxed or shelf paper.
One can also visit an arboretum, such as the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on Highway 5 in Chanhassen.
They offer a variety of different classes for all ages, children to adult, or just take a tour of the gardens and walk the boggy trails. This is lots of fun for all ages. You can enjoy a lunch there, as well.
Visit a greenhouse with your children and take in all of the beautiful sites and scents. Flowers, vegetables, perennials, herbs, and the like will awaken and rejuvenate all of your senses from the long winter stretch.
Put up a bird feeder with your wee ones and allow your children the responsibility, along with you, to fill the feeders with the preferred seed or bird food. My 5-year-old thoroughly enjoys walking our yard and filling each feeder.
Have your children pick up sticks in the yard and use as natural decorations for your yard. I fill an old milk can with twigs that were lying on the ground.
Your children could be creative with the twigs and make their own décor with the sticks and maybe some twine string, etc.
Of course, fly a kite with your children. It is a wonder what flying a simple kite can do to your spirits as the kite takes flight.
Here is a verse from Garnett Ann Schultz’s poem, “Beauty Is”:
“Beauty is a golden dawn, fresh at break of day.
A greening hill as spring arrives, dancing on her way;
A laughing brook, the sighing wind, a rainbow soft and fair . . .
Beauty is a shining world about us everywhere.”
Enjoy the outdoors and the playground it offers all of us.