Archives for June 2009

Discussing Nature Challenge #2: Awakening Your Senses in Nature


Evidently I was so excited to begin our fantastic CWDkids giveaway yesterday that I forgot we were going to discuss our Connecting with Nature Challenge #2!

Last week when I issued our second challenge to connect with nature.  I asked you to focus on awakening your own senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound) through your own interactions with nature. We talked about how we must be careful to remember that our children observe the ways that we as “grown-ups” interact with nature, so we want to model for them that being outdoors allows each of our senses to be engaged.

It is not unusual for me to sit outside on our back steps for a few minutes each morning, watching the trees light up in the golden rays of morning sun while I listen to birds chirping as I sip my coffee.  This past weekend offered me an opportunity to take up more of a challenge: my husband and I spent the weekend in Kansas City which moved me out of my normal routines and our spacious yard shaded by decades-old trees and into the city, where concrete replaces green grass as ground cover and traffic lights far outnumber mature trees.

On Saturday morning, I had the chance to explore the Country Club Plaza (our nation’s first suburban shopping district) and so I decided to try to take in nature from a more urban perspective than the lens I usually view through.

I observed that my morning coffee and the blueberry muffin on which I splurged were every bit as satisfying next to greenery that grew behind a plaza bench.


Even carefully manicured flowers still startle with amazingly brilliant colors.


There was plenty of noise from the car traffic driving by, but I could choose to focus my auditory attentions on the gentle, soothing splashes of water that flowed from the fountains.


There are places where the landscaping is allowed to grow a little more wild and free.


And though I didn’t capture it with my camera, there is nothing quite like the smell of a crowd of people caught in a summer rainstorm – would it be crass to say that the entire plaza smelled a bit like a wet dog?  After the rain had cleared, the entire area seemed to gleam in the sunshine, and the unpleasant odors were redeemed with that sparkling new smell of fresh.

If it weren’t for this challenge, I might not have taken the time to slow down and seek out nature in places that appear to have been overrun by mankind.  I certainly would not have taken note of how being outdoors in an environment that is more carefully managed than my own backyard can still alert my senses. I’m glad I took the time to capture it in pictures – they are some of the most meaningful shots from my trip.

How about you? Did you take up the challenge to experience nature with all five senses? What did you discover? Share your insights in the comments section or leave a link to your own post with thoughts on this challenge.

first photo courtesy of isado