“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt” -John Muir
Travel with me in your mind for a moment as we walk along a trail into the woods together. Towering cedar trees on either side stretch up to the sky. Taking in a deep breath, damp air mixed with earthy aroma fills our lungs. The crunch of pine needles under the feet announce our journey to all who inhabit this sanctuary. A gurgling stream follows along the path, calling all who wander here to come play. Bird songs welcome us with each melodious note. Every sense now awakened to a peace and beauty only nature can bring. It draws us in, calling for us to leave all behind to be present in this moment.
June is National Great Outdoors Month where we are reminded to get outside, explore and appreciate nature. Spending time in nature has been shown to improve physical and mental health for all ages. Nature fills our buckets!
Cardinal Rule Press’ Bucket Filling Program is built on the philosophy of everyone having an invisible bucket that can be filled. When our bucket is filled, we feel happy and content. We can fill others’ buckets as well as filling our own bucket. Getting out into nature is one way we can fill our bucket. Taking a step away from the noise around us, putting away technology and going for a walk fills our bucket. We begin to notice the little things such as squirrels scampering, blooming flowers, bees buzzing or the tap-tap-tapping of a woodpecker. Go for a picnic at a park to spend time in nature. Plant a garden, feel the soil between our fingers and enjoy eating vegetables that we helped to grow. There are countless benefits from observing and enjoying time in nature. Use this Nature Scavenger Hunt to get started and see what other creative ways your family can come up with to enjoy the outdoors.
Hiking in the mountains is something I regularly do to fill my bucket. Walking among wildflowers, searching for fungi or spotting birds’ nests gives me a sense of peace and well being. Challenging myself to complete hard hikes gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Doing hard things also fills my bucket. What ways can you let nature fill your bucket this month?
When you are at your local bookstore or library, check out some books for the entire family related to the great outdoors. The Hike by Alison Farrell has children seeking, observing and appreciating nature. The non-fiction book, Outdoor Kids in an Inside World by Steven Renella is a compelling read about the importance of incorporating nature in our children’s experiences. The Nature Journal: A Backyard Adventure by Savannah Allen is about a boy who connects with his dad over a love of nature. This summer, Cardinal Rule Press will release Buddy the Bucket Filler by Maria Dismondy and Carol McCloud where a boy leaves the city and heads to his uncle’s farm where there’s never a dull moment.
We can fill nature’s bucket, too! When you are outdoors with children this summer, look for ways you can make a difference in nature. Pick trash up around the neighborhood, beach or woods, put out hummingbird feeders, make a butterfly garden, build bat houses and bee hotels or create a compost in the backyard. Let me know other ways your family fills nature’s bucket.
Whether hiking, going to the beach, gardening or camping, I hope your family is able to take some time this month to enjoy the great outdoors. The benefits of physical and mental health are waiting right outside your doorstep!
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
— Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
Nikki Bergstresser is an educator and author of children’s books Lila Lou’s Little Library and Seasons for Stones. Nikki lives on the west coast of British Columbia with her husband, two daughters, and a plethora of critters. She facilitates online book clubs, instructs writing classes for children, and presents literature seminars for parents and educators. Inspiration for Nikki’s writing comes from spending time in nature, traveling to new places, and spontaneous adventures. Learn more about Nikki at www.nikkibergstresser.com