hazynuts

06 February 2006

Tree hugger

Today the sun shined warmly, and spring seemed like a real possibility peeking around the corner. After work, I came home and took Hazel to the park. As soon as we entered the space of grass and trees, Hazel instigated a game of hide-and-seek, hiding behind a tree with her hands over her eyes. She doesn't get all of the complexities of hide-and-go-seek, so really it's more of an elaborate game of peek-a-boo. We each stood on our respective sides of a regal Douglas Fir and eventually I would peek around to her side and say, "I found you!" merely signaling that it was time, again, to get on my side of the tree and let her count to "ten". ("One.. two.. free...............................................Where's Hazel?")

After many rousing rounds of that, I began circling the trees and walking up the massive above ground root-molded-into-trunk part of one tree. One of those hunks attached to a tree that makes a swell seat if you have a nice book and some free time for loafing. Hazel was interested in watching me climb up the hump and scale down the other side, and started doing the same. It became a tantalizing physical challenge for her and she did it over and over again, balancing herself on the unstable natural surface, pushing herself to hold on with her feet as the ridge narrowed, grasping onto the thick ridged bark of the tree, and finally accepting she had gone up as far as she could. She then turned and learned the thrill of coming down a short steep slope quickly while still remaining on one's feet.

I missed my camera at that moment. I wanted to catch her adjusting her hat and setting her mind to do it again. I wanted to have proof of her slowing down and using her senses to navigate the tree. It reminded me of my rock climbing days, when my body felt symbiotic with the rock surface and I was buoyant. I remembered that I have always loved to climb - most of my life I have loved some form of climbing until my body began to feel heavy to me. Now, I often have to command, "No climbing!" because Hazel is always trying to get into things that are off limits until she understands not to destroy them. It felt so good to allow and encourage and feel warmly about her climbing today.

It also felt amazing to have her ignore the play structure and instead choose to play with a tree (the Waldorf method school preparation demon chanted loudly in my ear). After awhile, she crouched down to the ground and began gathering pine needles. I sat with her, grabbed a stick and dug a hole. We buried and uncovered a rock several times. She played with small sticks and enjoyed breaking them with her hands. "I did it!" she effused. I realized that this is the summer when we can resume camping, this time including Hazel, too. I started to tell her about camping, about spending days and nights outside, eating and playing outside the whole time, and sleeping in a tent. I pictured sharing my favorite camping spots in Oregon and Washington. I know babies can go camping, but the type of baby Hazel has been has not been conducive to camping until now. I'm really feeling spring in the air and can't wait for a few days off as a family to head out and pitch our three-person tent.

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