Happy Birthday Dad!
Today is my dad’s birthday! I always had the hardest time remembering if his birthday was Sept 30th or the 31st until I learned that there is no September 31st. I think I learned that a few months ago.
In honor of my dad, I thought I would write a little blog post about him. I’m not fortunate enough to be with him on his birthday—although I would love to be traipsing through the woods with him, hunting for chanterelles.
My dad taught us to love nature. We were always outside with my dad—talking to him as he watered his garden, camping and hiking, and going with him to the organic garden at Evergreen State College. He taught us about shopping locally, the idea of organic, and self-sufficiency. Even now, if we have a question about building a chicken coop, the best fertilizer for a garden or why the scientific name of a particular tree—my dad knows the answer.
I remember my dad sitting at the kitchen table in our tiny house, attempting to ‘bake’ brownies on his tiny little backpacking stove. This was to get us ready for an upcoming 30 mile hike through the Olympics—one in which I saw my first bear and really started to love exploring.
Anytime we talk, we give each other an animal report. “Hey, on my walk the other day, I saw six deer, two turkeys and a raccoon.”-or-“I saw three dolphins, two manatees, and a little shark on my paddle today.” Now, our kids do the same with us.
My dad was a ‘greener’. If you live in Olympia, Washington, you will know that means someone who went to Evergreen State College and leans predominately hippy. He had a huge beard, wore flannel and jeans before it was the cool thing to do, and planned to build a house out of found materials. He would scare my mom by insisting our toilet would just be a hole in the ground. That was his dream house. A house built from tires and bottles with a hole for a toilet.
He introduced us to the Olympia Food Co-op and the Blue Heron Bakery and the idea of eating healthy. He would add brown rice to every recipe– brown rice, tofu pancakes, smoothies with brown rice, brown rice in chocolate chip cookies.
The last time I was in Washington, my dad and I went fishing. A whole day out on the water on his boat, in the beautiful Puget Sound, catching salmon and just hanging out. It was perfect. The time before that, we took my kids up to Mt. Rainer for the first time. They still talk about that trip—they felt like they were so close to get to the top of the mountain. They still talk about it all the time. These little memories are so much better than some toys that they play with for a short time.
I think my brother and sister will agree—our dad taught us how to appreciate and love nature. We all turn to the natural world for centering and peace, even though we are computer-ish people. My brother, who makes a living through creating electronic music, gets his inspiration outside. My sister, a yoga blogger, teaches her best classes outside. And I, am just now learning that when my body and mind is stressed to the max—a walk in the woods makes everything better.
I teach a class to college students and I am learning that so many of them spent NO time outside with their families. They didn’t have family time around the campfire or time to run around on mossy logs with their siblings.
I am so grateful that our dad took the time to take us outside. We aren’t scared of nature but curious about it and it is something we pass on to our own kids.
There is so much research out there that shows how disconnected we are becoming from each other and our environments and even more research that shows that reconnecting to the earth and each other is good for us. Being outside provides so many benefits—including Vitamin D, fresh oxygenated air (especially at the beach), helps us to feel grounded—and studies show being outside makes us more productive.
So, in honor of my dad’s birthday—I am going to get outside with my kids today! Feel free to celebrate with him—go outside and play!
Teach your kids to love and appreciate nature—it has been one of the best things he has taught us. Thanks Dad! I love you—Happy Birthday! (Sorry, I wish I had a photo of you to include….maybe I can update this later!)