The most engaging activity with my twin daughters. The activity that never fails to amuse them. The activity that the girls are never tired of. Also, the activity that shows up my inadequacy as a parent. It is actually not an activity at all. It is just a walk. We start the walk outside the house and the activity begins – The Nature Walk.
Our five years old twin daughters do not go to any formal environment, not yet. We do not have a TV at home, either. So, what do we do? We just go outside the house and the girls keep themselves busy at least for an hour, if not more. We go out for running errands and we bring back much more than what we had gone to buy. Every time we step out, the girls make a new discovery or build further on their last. What is it? The Nature Walk.
To be honest, the girls do not even see this as an activity. They are not even conscious of it. They just do it. There is, after all, nothing better to do than this for them.
A Disclaimer: When I mention Nature Walk, Nature refers to any and everything that is not man-made. Nature does not mean that it exists in isolation, it is pure and pristine, it is difficult to reach. Rather, nature is any and everything around, that adults take for granted; at least I did earlier.
Clouds and Wind
Earlier, we stayed in an apartment on a busy main road. We used to go to the terrace and the girls had a great time looking at the clouds, their colour and shapes, their moving around and different hues of the sky.
The most under-rated aspect of nature – Wind fascinates the girls. How and why the wind blows? From where does the wind come? The wind also brings them their collection – leaves.
Trees and Plants, Any Vegetation
Large trees are few and far in between in big cities. Whatever and whenever we see, the girls keep asking questions about the trees and its eco-system: leaves, twigs, branches, buds, fruits, flowers, birds, insects etc. They collect whatever they find underneath the tree.
Not as much as trees, they have made great friends with plants around in our new neighbourhood. They find Beggars Tick in plenty and use their thumb to make it fly around. They love to swirl the Pinwheel flowers. Yellow Bells and Oleander flowers are a must to collect for them.
They love to eat Wild Sorrel. Also, to drink nectar from Ixora flowers. I was stunned the first time I saw them doing this. Later, I got to know that my wife, who runs an experiential travel firm – Dirty Feet, had taught them this.
Animals and Insects
Again, like trees, animals in a metro city are hard to come by. However, moving around with my daughters, I have learnt that the fun and the size are unrelated. The smaller the animal/insect, the higher the interest levels of our daughters.
How long can one look at a millipede/centipede? The girls find them fascinating to keep a tab on them till they crawl out of sight. I never find a crawling creature on my own, but somehow the girls have a knack for finding them all around. Be it a snail, dung beetle, ants, spider, mantis, grasshopper, caterpillar and host of others whom I do not know to identify.
As soon as they see one, the girls take out their magnifying glasses to have a sneak peek into the lives of their discovery.
Birds and Butterflies
In our new neighbourhood, we do get to hear bird sounds once in a while. Though, sighting them is very difficult. Girls are learning to guess the bird from the sounds they make. Pigeons are the only birds they get to see in the city. No sparrows, no mynahs, no crows, no other birds; apart from their books.
The girls have a collection of peacock feathers. They are planning to make a dye out of blueberries and write with the feathers. Let us see how the plan unfolds.
The bumper prize – Sighting of the butterfly and running after the butterfly until it flies out of sight.
Stones and Pebbles
The girls have been collecting stones ever since they started taking their tiny steps outside the house. Whenever we go out, almost always, the girls come back home with a stone each in their hands, if not more.
The girls pick up stones from the footpath, from the road, from construction sites, from demolition sites, anywhere and everywhere. If we step out of the house twice in a day, then we have double the collection.
We have boxes and tubs filled with stones at our house. At times, I fear that municipal officers might levy penalties on us for our girls’ stone-lifting.
The Nature Walk
My wife and I believe that the nature walk keeps the child in our twin daughters alive.
I hope and pray that their fascination with nature continues. Fingers crossed.