Find Your Special Place

Find a special place outdoors you and/or your children can call their own: your backyard, a park, open field, riverbank, stream or a hidden away slice of undeveloped open space. After school Nature Detectives look for a special place or “sit spot” at school they love to be and draw it. It may be a special tree or quiet corner. The special place may be somewhere they feel challenged, yet safe.

One Nature Detectives class discovered a long series of bushes, called “the tunnel” at their school. I hear screams of delight. as they enter. And “I’m scared. But I am going in anyway. In these moments, this special place is where they enjoy taking risks, apply problem solving and team building skills. These are experiences that can only happen outdoors. The children want to return over and over again.

Take time to find your special place. Pack a picnic and bring along a journal to write or draw and “record the evidence,” Sit quietly and observe the landscape or make an unexpected discovery hiding in plain sight in the bush.

The American River Parkway bike path is my ideal place to see deer, caterpillars, butterflies, wild turkeys and squirrels. I have also seen a coyote meander across the path. On some rides, I have dodged a  snake crossing the path.

My favorite spot is a picnic table that sits on a ridge covered with oak trees, offering a panoramic view of the river. From here I watch the wind shake the leaves on trees that have changed from green to yellow. I see leaves from a mature oak fall to the ground and a roving lizard climb its jagged bark.

River access is a short walk down the hill from the bike path. I guide my bike down  to the sandbar and dip my feet in the cool water, watch the rapids rush by, see the birds fly overhead and hear geese honking.

I enjoy sitting alone in my peaceful spot, listening only to the water and the occasional whizz of a cyclist or two passing by.  When you find your “peaceful spot,” here’s what to do:

    • Explore what lives there.
    • Visit in different seasons to see how the land has changed.
    • Smell the freshness in the air after a rain.
    • Listen to the music of the birds.
    • Walk barefoot in the grass.
    • Play “I spy” with your kids.
    • Watch the leaves fall and the where the shadows fall at sunset.

The more you know about your special place, the more you realize it has a life of its own and watch it all unfold.

Contact Janice for more information about bringing Nature Detectives program into your special place – neighborhood, school, or nature area.