Daniela Ginta writes for The Armchair Mayor News on Fridays.
COLUMN — It was almost dark when we got to White Lake. The water sparkled blue over whitish sand and we set up the tent while the boys volunteered to get the fire going. It wasn’t easy. The air was damp and a breeze kept putting out every little flame they managed to create.
They tried for a long time until it turned too dark and frustrating to continue on their own so they asked for help. We obliged, making sure we acknowledged their efforts and persistence. Attempting and succeeding do not always go together. Nature teaches that constantly which is why taking kids outside helps them understand what life is about better than anything else.
‘Why couldn’t we do it, we try everything, just like you do it….’ The point of trying is not always succeeding but learning. When we learn, we connect the dots and improve; we grow. They sighed and kept asking about the fire and we did our best to provide answers, not just to the how but also to the why. Next time it’ll be easier, we told them, because knowledge helps weed out frustration.
The next day we reached Ainsworth Hot Springs and got spoiled. We had forest on one side and the lake and mountains on the other. Rain and rainbow as bonus features.
The boys tried holding their breath underwater. Who can do it for longer? How? Why? An elderly gentleman smiled from afar and came closer to give them some tips. He used to be a competitive athlete. He explained not only the ‘how’ but the ‘why’ as well.
At night we camped near Kootenay Lake and the next morning we visited Nelson. We ate breakfast at a bakery that abounded in smiling people and got offered to try homemade soda. Sarsaparilla soda no less, not because it was the first on the list of flavours, but because that is a Smurf treat, our youngest informed us. So we had to.
The lady who served us got all the why and how questions the boys could muster and she graciously answered all of them. She also invited us to come back in the summer for sarsaparilla soda float, which we will.
We spent the night in Kaslo and the next morning saw us on the road hunting for wild hot springs which we braved rain and muck to find and we did; we plunged in the steamy pools and the boys churned the why and how without any reservations.
‘Why’ and ‘how’ were attached to hot springs, trees and all the world we could see on that Sunday afternoon when time seemed to have succumbed to the same warm waters that saw us lost in the woods until early evening.
We answered with facts we knew, and we offered our most plausible explanation for what we did not know. We got to chatting with people in the pool and more questions and answers found each other. We left and it was still rainy and cold but the forest and the springs had been somehow deciphered and we felt fortunate for having learned some while knowing there is still so much to learn.
We got home late and the boys cradled the good trip feelings for days afterwards. It was that good. Eyes had been wide open and minds were learning in leaps and bounds. Feet may have stomped in frustration over a fire that refused to keep on burning, or over burning marshmallows, but a perfect trip that has pleasures lined up with no trying and learning in between invites to entitlement rather than awe and gratefulness.
The feeling of knowing your world well enough to want to save it never comes from having it at your feet, but rather being bold enough to want to discover it, to learn about it despite challenges or in spite of them, and once you do, the gate towards wanting to preserve its beauty and magic comes as a bonus feature, like the rainbow did, arching over the mountains and making our youngest to ask ‘If it’s all droplets of water in the air, why can’t we freeze it like so to have it for longer?’
Being privy to the sun rising from behind snow-topped mountains, or watching a drop of rain settling on a leaf with what looks like a tiny sun immersed in it (how can the sun shine like that, mom?), or hearing the wind whoosh through sleepy trees in early morning and wondering where it comes from, attaching the ‘how’ and ‘why’ to all of that and realizing that this is the one show that never gets boring with repetition, makes me say again and again: there is no better way of teaching children about life and the world than taking them out there.
Far or near, the world awaits. It really is as simple as that; getting dressed and showing up.