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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Real Playground


I had to pressure my girl a bit to explore the river and not just look at it and then walk away to the swimming pool. I was rewarded later for this persuation by her words, "Mom I never knew the river is so much fun". I realized that today's kids from the concrete jungles do need a little persuation to realise the fun in exploring nature. We have got so used to the buildings, the computers, the TV, the pool, that it has become our whole world; from where we watch nature from afar, not participating in its flow, not experiencing, exploring or understanding what it means to be part of it. We jump into the regularity of the pool but do not care to cautiously explore the mystery and variety of the river. It is because we in our safe world don't know the fun in mystery.

I have been lucky to have explored nature in my ancestral homes in Kerala. In the hilly terrains we had lot of fun jumping into mountain pools watching the waterspiders skitting about, fishing with meshed cloth towels, climbing up slippery rocks to have a look at that mysterious cave which foxes were said to inhabit.

I always used to think there are only artificial gardens(which don't excite me) and nothing natural to explore in big cities like Bangalore..until my husband introduced us to riverside resorts.

The river was a shallow stream near the resort we were staying in. It rushed at some spots and some places it was quite still. I walked in and explored the river bed and found that it was rocky and not even knee deep. I mentally marked a circle in which it would be safe for the kids. I knew this was important as I almost drowned once when I quite naively swam into a river which I did not know about, which we had just come by during a road trip. It was without water in a region where the sandy bed was visible, giving the wrong impression that it was reasonably shallow. I swam along the shore not far from the sloping bank but when I kept my feet down a second time, towards the visible exposed river bed, I panicked not finding the river bed under my feet. It was a sand mined river!! I managed to swim to the exposed river bed (just a few strokes away) but it did leave me jittery about waters for a while though eventually it was a worthwhile learning experience. Never swim into waters you have no idea about especially if it has a sandy bed, you just cant know what man must have done to it!

We walked on the rocks, avoiding the moss ridden ones. Explored the rush of the waters over the rocks, put our hand in and watched the water glide past and then I seated my kids in the still regions of the water where they could watch the water spiders and fishes. I went to a cradle shaped rock that I had noticed in the water where the water was at its fastest and holding two rocks I dipped myself in lodging myself into the cradle with water rushing over me.... and as I came up, I had smelled, tasted and been one with the river. This was what I loved, experiencing the oneness with nature.

The next morning we walked barefoot on the poolside grass, something we had not done in a long while, but oh it was chilly and then I thought of my slippers and why I wore it! I looked at the birds unmindful of the chill, making nests that couldn't keep the chill out. No wonder man made slippers and houses. But I had planned to be bare foot and so later in the day we played bare feet in a natural patch, the games of my childhood and then I stamped on a bramble. Eeek, where are my slippers!


We lay down and watched the birds. I wondered how all day birds and animals have no other purpose but to find their food and take intermittent naps! Lying there I could course the entire journey of man from the forest to houses, gathering to agriculture, leaves to clothes, walking barefoot to vehicles. It was all a natural movement.

Yet in our journey to better adapt to nature we had more and more spare time in our hands to not just create a safe region for us, but go ahead and push nature into a bystander, corrupt its natural features and flow. I was reminded of a quote I had used in my environmental science course book.

"If in a city we had six vacant lots available to the youngsters of a neighborhood for playing ball, it might be "development" to build houses on the first, and the second, and the third, and the fourth, and even the fifth, but when we build houses on the last one, we forget what houses are for.”- Aldo Leopold
Development was a natural progression but let it not become the reason to forget where we came from. Let us not forget to allow an equal space for our origins, leaving it in its pristine glory, mystery and also regularity. And finally lets not forget to play into the magical spell of our real playground.

19 comments:

Jessica M said...

Great pictures...and I loved your reflections. I'm so glad you got to enjoy some time in nature at the river with your kids. We live by a state park and my favorite thing to do with my kids is take them for hikes at the river. I love watching them run with wild abandon in a natural playground made of wood and stone.

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

I loved your post, Jerly!
Exposing our children to the natural world and its wonders is tantamount in this world of hi-tech and artificial entertainments. My little granddaughter is happiest when she can be outside gathering sticks and rocks. :)
Your photos and story of your river adventure are outstanding!

Roy Durham said...

enjoying nature is what life is all about. great post it is something to remember. god bless

janaki nagaraj said...

Seems like you had great fun...I too love nature and love to explore the less traveled roads.

Rahul Bhatia said...

A very refreshing post , Jerly! Nature has such a great treasure ...

Rachel Hoyt said...

Great post, Jerly! I hate to think about kids not enjoying nature.

Debra said...

It is in nature, scenes like these, that we are drawn closer to the Creator, don't you agree? What a great life learning adventure for you and your children to enjoy along life's journey!

Dangerous Linda said...

Hi, Jerly! ~

This post brings me back to long leisurely days exploring nature with my kids many moons ago.

Your daughter's initial reaction to the river reminds me of something my older son said on our first road-trip through the countryside, when he was 3-years-old. Gazing out the car window he saw a farm and excitedly exclaimed, "Mama, look! Do you think those cows are real?" Because he had only seen them in picture books and on T.V. before -- haha!

As my boys grew, we spent lots & lots of time walking in woods, splashing in lakes, rivers and oceans, discovering the beauty of prairies and deserts. Those, indeed, were the good old days...

Monu Awalla said...

Such a lovely, thoughtful and useful post Jerls... :)

U made me remember d days wer I grown up, totally surrounded with the beauty of nature... Even now wen I visit my home I just hit out to explore nature's beauty on my bike!

It's really wonderful to see Christina realizing the fun while being around d nature... The snaps are very cute indeed.

Jerly said...

Thanks Jessica, Martha, Roy, Janaki, Rahul, Rachel, Debra, Linda and Monu for dropping by, sharing your experiences and enjoying nature with me here. Actually I am hoping to have more glimpses of your nature adventures in your posts. :)

vinay said...

Nice pics...Its about 4-5 years since I last had dip in the river but I never missed it until today when I read your post.
Right title, nature is indeed the real playground... :) :)

Jerly said...

Thanks Vinay, for sharing that u missed your river experience on reading the post! Cant think of anything more encouraging to me than that :)

Jerly said...

@Debra I agree, not only does it bring us closer to the creator when we become spell bound by nature's mysteries but it also dwarfs us, to realise that we are infact so small and insignificant and at his mercy when we dare to venture outside our safe environments into the potentially dangerous world of the unknown. The point when I almost drowned, not finding the river bed under my feet and my head went under; It could have been difficult as I was shocked and felt choked with the water on my face but suddenly I felt a calm centre within the whirlwind of my panic which spoke in a small calm voice-'swim'...And I made it. That was a moment I discovered something precious that is in all of us which talks to us in times where we wouldn't survive without it. It does make us believe in Gods mercy and hand over us to protect us till it is indeed our time.

Jovy Thomas said...

I remember the incident when u drowned a little bit. It was during our road trip, isn't it? Glad to learn that u enjoyed your stay in the riverside resort and enjoyed nature. You have put together lovely words here and made the post interesting!!

Jerly said...

Yeah Jovy, you even walked in a bit from the shore with the thought of saving me without knowing swimming.:) I remember that too dear

P V Ariel said...

Hi Jerly, this is a wonderful post,
hey, where is this place in Kerala?
well captured pics
you took the pics?
Yes, our children, for that matter we the concrete jungle people too need a big break like this from our routine business.
Nice thoughts as your blog title says It's really a great place to think aloud. LOL
Keep posting
keep inform
best
Philip

Jerly said...

Thanks Pvariel:) This is in Bangalore, Kaveri river. Thanks for your appreciation, its heartening. Keep visiting

Manjulika pramod said...

Lovely pics and engaging write up. Now I get to know your love and demand for natural landscapes..
Good that your kiddo realized the fun associated with rivers..
My hubby has introduced me to travelling and I thank him for this...

Jerly said...

Thanks for visiting Manjulika!

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