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

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  2. Well, we headed out the door with our hats, sunscreen, and apples to feed the horses at the boarding stables down the street. We made it halfway down the driveway and turned around. We are currently under a weather alert warning for “subtropical sun” with high danger to exposure and daily temps over 100 that did us in. However, we saw the new persimmons coming out all green and firm at this point. We discovered a bird nest that looks like is is occupied and rousted a baby deer that was hiding in the grass when we got too close. So still a successful search I think, didn’t do any tasting though! Thanks for the challenge.

  3. Amazing to be able to enjoy a moment anywhere. This week I put aside all my to-do list one morning and the kids and I just picked plums. It was so nice. Another time, my daughter came with me to my prenatal appointment, and we saw some benches on our way to the car. There were about 30 of them looking empty and lonely. So we decided to sit on them and just take in the morning for a while. We discussed how comfortable they felt for metal and talked about how the weather was and what our favorite kind of weather was. Those moments are so freeing.

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