Nature Gives the Family Respite During Holiday Hoopla

Dad and son sledding‘Tis the season … for baking, decorating, wrapping, snacking and lots of fa-la-la.  In the midst of the list-checking and merry-making, though, do you and your kids sometimes need to take a tranquil five (or 10 or 30)?

Getting outside is a great way to soothe the revved-up holiday spirit. A stroll through the neighborhood or  a long pause at the bird feeder can de-stress cranky kid and parent alike.  My favorite time of the day is taking our dog for a run in a nearby park.  The grass has yellowed, the leafless trees gone gray.  The natural world around us has settled into its winter quiet, and I can feel myself easing into its  slower, gentler rhythms.

Thanks to Walden Then & Now (Charlesbridge, ages 3 and up), your family can take a relaxing walk around Henry David Thoreau’s Massachusetts pond.  Author/illustrator Michael McCurdy introduces each letter of the alphabet with a short rhyme about Thoreau’s activities and wild neighbors during his two years there.  Little ones will love the playful poems, but  older kids and adults will appreciate additional short descriptions of the cabin making, ant watching and fishing that filled the American naturalist’s days. We learn about a mischievous loon, thumping hare, and pond ice used to keep food from spoiling.

If you’re looking for a gift that might continue to give throughout the year, Walden Then & Now is a lovely choice.  The book’s thick, creamy pages and McCurdy’s stunning wood engravings pay tribute to Thoreau’s own attention to  craft and natural beauty more than 150 years ago.

As we journey through the solstice darkness and into a new year (and paraphrasing slightly from Thoreau’s Walden), here’s wishing you and your children “pasture enough for [your] imagination[s].”