I grew up rural. Country. Farmland and woods. You could see our closest neighbour’s house, but it would take you 10 minutes to walk there. I spent my youth prowling through woods, building fantasy castles on ponds with moss and leaves and stones. I could escape into the farmer’s fields surrounding our house for hours on end, or walk through the forest building stick forts to hide in. And I still miss it today. I still love forest walks, seeing dappled sunlight on a clearing or smelling the rich peppery ferns in a grove. I still know which plants make the best ceilings for houses (Queen Anne’s Lace flowers in an igloo shape = totally magical) and which berries are safe and not so safe to gorge on.
My daughter is a city kid. Her youth is spent in bright plastic playgrounds, in suburban play places and walking to school across busy streets with crossing guards. And yet, I can see her own love of nature and outdoors shining through: her love of bugs as a toddler, her fascination now with fairies and her creation of fairy houses or schools or playgrounds in every stump and fallen log.
As urban dwellers, we have to work harder to get our children connected with nature. We’re lucky enough to have a backyard with lots of trees and sticks and mud. But we still need to get out further, to walk through forests and beaches and bluffs and have encounters with wildlife and talk about how nature in and around a growing city is so important and why we not only have to experience it, we have to protect it.
But we live in Ontario, and there is just so much we can explore. We’re lucky enough to be in the west end, where all it takes is a hop on to the 427 or QEW to get out to some of the most amazing places.
Do you want to find out more about nature around you, about how easy it really is to have an adventure in the wilderness even if you live in the middle of Toronto? If so, we invite you to join us for our #exploregta Twitter chat tonight at 8 pm EDT. We’ll talk about the 535,000 acres of green space in the GTA, about ways to connect your kids to nature even when you live in a giant city, and we’ll be giving away some really fun prizes too. Hosted by Sara at Green Moms Collective in conjunction with the Credit Valley Conservation and Toronto Region Conservation Authority, I’ll be hanging out there along with Anne at Food Retro and, hopefully, you. We even have some fun prizes up for grabs. Won’t you join us? Sign up here and visit the website at https://conservationparks.ca/.