Sometimes I really struggle to get outside in the wintertime. It isn’t that I don’t want to be out there.
More like I Just. Can’t. Be. Bothered.
The rest of the year round we spend most of our days out of doors. When Charlotte Mason said “Never be indoors when you can rightly be without.” she set the bar high, but I gladly rose to the occasion. Even to the point of stretching “rightly”… to the possible neglect of some of the house-stuff… then again, if no-one’s in here, no-ones making a mess, right? I also tend to take indoor stuff outdoors in the finer weather- writing, mending, reading to the children, meals and even some food preparation… any excuse to enjoy the sunshine!
We get the odd sunny day here in winter- still cold, of course, but we all troop out, eager as anything. Then there are Grey Days (when the clouds never seem to lift), and Drab Days (when it rains more than a bit), and so on down the scale, until we reach perfectly Dismal Days…
You know the sort. The sort of day where it only stops raining or blowing a wet and windy gale long enough to catch its breath, and then it begins all over again. Unless there are more than three of those days in a row I have no problem snuggling down in my little house, getting out the scissors and glue, the blocks and the train set, and the odd DVD for the children and watching the world blow by through my window (without feeling the faintest trace of envy when Richard passes by in a yellow macintosh, wet hair plastered to his forehead!)
If there are too many of those sorts of day in a row, we all endure forced marches in the straggling patches of grey-between-storms on about day four).
These are Dismal Days indeed, and if it weren’t for Dismal Days, nothing indoors-ish would really ever get done around here. Dismal Days are definitely for indoors.
The Grey Days and the Drab Days are the ones I struggle with most. Days when I could get outside a little… but…
The thought of rugging up and gum-booting and umbrella-ing everyone … the thought of Littles falling over in the mud or melting down into puddles at the top of the hill because they just don’t want to walk all the way home again… the protesting cries of “I’m cooold!”, “It’s wiiiindy!!”, “I want to go hooome!!!” are too awful to contemplate.
But I am determined to try.
Over the past few weeks we have rugged up a few times only to find that a Grey Day turns Drab, right at the moment we are stepping out the door. But having made all the preparations, we have pressed on… (yes, even in the rain!)
And been Pleasantly Surprised….
Sometimes rain, rain does go away….
Sometimes the sun slips out for a few moments from behind those clouds, and ah! how thankful we truly are to see it!
Everything smells fresh and new…
Birds sing so sweetly in the still, dripping bush…
Dewdrops glitter on every spiderweb.
(If nothing else, you know you’re alive up on top of the hill, with the wind tearing your hat from your head, and carrying your voice shouting away… )
And there are rainbows after the rain.
We went out the other day. After about four days inside I was grimly determined that in spite of the Cold and the Grey, we would spend an hour- at least– out there. ( I was having an attack of CM guilt… it is hard and humbling to read those words …
“I make a point, says a judicious mother, of sending my children out, weather permitting, for an hour in the winter, and two hours a day in the summer months. That is well; but it is not enough.” (Home Education, Charlotte Mason.)
(and that from someone whose climate really could be said to be Drab and Dismal in the winter months!)
We walked up the bush track to Richie’s Old House, and on up to the Pond. It began as a Rather Grumbling Walk, and there was Much Dragging-of-Feet. But somewhere along the way an idea was hatched of Building a House, and fallen branches were gathered; and Mother, eager to keep the enthusiasm high found herself dragging two enormous branches all the way up the hill.
The house was built, and the Littles moved on to explore the Pond, finding frogspawn, picking the tops off reeds, dropping rocks to hear them splash, and scrambling up and down the steep slope. Gumboots filled with water. Bottoms of clothes were wet. Bottoms of children were muddy. The baby was allowed down (after Mother won the internal struggle of Fear-of-Washing vs. Freedom-for-Baby!) She toddled about grinning, pointing at mushrooms and picking up rocks for us to drop into the water for her.
The hour passed.
It was the first hour that was the hardest. And when I saw them all happily engrossed in their play I knew that we might even manage an hour and a half…
Two hours later the happy adventurers reluctantly arrived home (I had to go back… the call of the unswept floor, and dinner to prepare!). The fire was lit, the house warmed, and we were all glad to be snug again. The bracing freshness of the open air had done wonders for everyones mood- not least of all mine!
Why had it been so hard to get out when we all enjoyed it so much? Inertia I suppose… the path of least resistance is, after all, the easy road to take. Yet it is a true refrain in the song of living that to experience the beautiful often requires the sacrifice of comfort.
Enduring memories are best made when we truly live every moment… even those wet, muddy, uncomfortable blustery moments.
I have always to remind myself that clothes can be washed, boots can be stuffed with newspaper and dried by the fire, and really, there’s only so long a body can stand to be indoors.
Children only have one childhood to experience the world- in all of its seasons… And I want to enjoy it with them…to fix my gaze on their delighted faces (and not on the inevitable size of my washing pile!)