My husband and I decided five years ago that it was time for us to leave our beloved subdivision, which had paved roads and sprinkler systems, and move to a more open area where our four sons could roam.
My husband laughed when I said all I wanted for our next home was 1) A river and 2) A mountain (we live south of Michigan, so there aren’t many mountains and rivers to choose from). Although I knew it wasn’t possible to find such a land unicorn, I still held each house I looked at to the same emotional standard. It took us six months to find the right home—a small ranch on 2 1/2 acres with the perfect sunset view.
We fell in love with the land as we learned to manage it. We borrowed a tractor to control the overgrown raspberry and wild goldenrod bushes in our backyard. Lush flowerbeds were transformed into fairy gardens and magical gnomes. We dug holes in the soil to make new homes for an Autumn blaze maple tree and a butterfly magnolia tree. We learned how to grow blueberry bushes. We made tart grape juice and dandelion jelly. Our sourdough Dutch babies were decorated with violets from the ground. We also enjoyed leafy green salads for lunchtime and breakfast with sourdough Dutch baby loaves of bread. As a family, we harvested maple syrup.
We moved in shortly after the boys had finished moving in. The 7-year-old boy asked us what name we should give our new location. Without hesitation, he said, “Shiloh: the Land of Eternal Beauty.” Although I thought that any land worthy of such a title would have to include a river or a mountain, my big-hearted, adventurous son was the best spot on Earth.
Greta Eskridge, the author of Adventuring Together, says that if we want our children to grow where they are planted and make the most of what they have been given, we must model this behavior for them. It’s not about waiting for “real” adventures to occur, but rather making what you can do the Real experience.
Set up birdhouses and bird feeders near your windows to get to know the birds. Use post-it notes and stickers to record the feathered friends and dates you saw them. This little activity was called “Bird Club” when our boys were young.