I want my son to enjoy nature - to feel comfortable there, to respect its beauty and its prickles. I want him to want to be outside.
Perhaps I'm more relaxed about dirt, insects, and leaves-in-the-mouth because I grew up in the mountains on thirty acres of pure bliss which practically bordered a national forest. I soak up the sweet smell of decaying leaves. I'm transported back to countless childhood memories when the mixed scent of pine trees and smoke from a wood fire finds its was into my neighborhood.
I totally get it that you want to eat those leaves, little guy. They feel so crinkly, smell so earthy, and look so enticing.
While a nature table is a nice way to bring a bit of the outside in, I feel strongly that the best way to experience Nature is by being among it - within it, on top of it, below it ... rolling around in it, smelling it, and feeling it, no matter its temperament (cold or warm).
I try to make it a priority to get out with Finn every day. Not for a fast, calorie-burning, mama-paced walk along the road, but for a slow walk to a little wooded area bordering a small park. In this stretch of land forgotten by people, the deer have moved in, along with other many-legged beings which we tend not to welcome into our houses. So, good neighbors that we are, we go to visit them in their homes, bringing along a baby giggle and a knitting project.
And there we sit, in the dirt, listening to the latest bird gossip and admiring the beauty of tree bark.