Welcome to Rosie and Ashley’s Guelph Outdoor School Journal! Every time we visit the Outdoor School I feel like I enter a new part of myself. I want to savour every single second, capture every magic, and write about everything I felt and thought during our time there.
If you have ever had an interest in joining the Oaks and Acorns program with the Guelph Outdoor School, I honestly can’t say enough! And I know my daughter will participate in their other programs as she gets older too!
Visit their program details at their website here: https://www.theguelphoutdoorschool.com
Oct 30, 2018
It was a brisk day today and I was happy to have more of a chance to sit around the campfire and be apart of the gratitude circle that Rosie usually feels more compelled to pull me away from in exchange for exploring the forest.
Today in the circle we were giving thanks to ancestors that we admire and we were able to recall what it is that we admire about them. My Grandfather will always be the first person I think of, and it was interesting to be given an opportunity to pay tribute to him because I have felt his presence guiding me more loudly this year than ever before. He is such an integral part of my growth and my journey and it really felt like another way for him to remind me that he’s with me in this all the way.
My grandfather was a very peaceful, loving man. He had a way of calming the energy in any room by simply being present. It was subtle, but it was there. My most favourite memory of him was sitting on his knee as a child and watching him light his pipe. When he was done it was my job to blow out the match, and although this little tradition was so simple, it was magic. He was magic. His smile and laugh filled my heart to the brim and I’ll always think fondly of the time I had with him.
When he past on I remember having this inner knowing and panic that we were losing the glue of our family. Because he truly was. When he was dying I wanted so badly to release him of the responsibility. I wanted him to be at peace. I told him that we’re all going to be ok. He doesn’t need to worry about us anymore. Little did I know, the truth was, he would help me better from the other side anyway. He never would stop being my glue. I’m so lucky to have him. I hope that one day soon I can evolve into the kind of person who calms and lightens any room with my presence.
Oct 23, 2018
Today Rosie and I were very late getting to the Guelph Outdoor School! Something about mittens, and boots, and potty training that couldn’t quite get us out the door on time. But we don’t have an agenda when we go to the Outdoor School. We know that when we enter this magical place the illusion of time stands still and we can move to the beat of our own drum.
Well, Rosie knows this more than I do. She challenges this fact in me every time she lingers at the bridge before we get to the camp itself. She could stay there all day if I let her! And I don’t blame her. The way the morning sun glimmers on the river is reason enough to come.
When we finally made our way there we could hear a guitar being played at the campfire, which was the first time we’ve experienced that! Then we were led as a group to find Maple Trees among the Cedars in the woods. The little hike into the forest made for an adventure that I thought couldn’t be topped until we reached a very steep rocky hill. It was proposed that we would find a beautiful meadow up there if we chose to brave it, and there isn’t anything that could stop Rosie from climbing “up a mountain”, so we took our chances! The meadow of dried wild flowers was such a beautiful thing to see and Rosie was enthralled. Totally worth sliding back down the “mountain” on my bum for!!
And then it began to rain. So we all headed over to the fire and watched as the rain turned to hail. Together we sang more songs and there was something so perfect about the rain surrounding us, the sound of the guitar, and the smell of the campfire. God, how I love this place.
Oct 16, 2018
When we arrived at the Guelph Outdoor School today we could hear the group singing and talking by the campfire in the distance. But Rosie is used to being brought to one spot and kept there for long periods of time. When she comes here she feels freedom in the air and wants nothing more than to explore the trees and forest.
I was offered a cup of tea, as I am every week, and I perched myself against a tree and watched her weave between trees collecting colourful cedar leaves that had fallen to the ground with the change in seasons. As she brought me more cedar we talked about its name, it’s texture, and how it has turned the colour orange, comparing it to other green coloured cedar.
As we wandered along the river we could hear some of our favourite songs being sung so we joined the group and began singing together. Afterwards the cedar leaf had become a topic of conversation and it was announced that there was a pot of cedar tea brewing on the fire if any of us were interested in trying it. It’s medicinal purpose is apparently endless. I loved the synchronicity of the fact that Rosie and I had already made cedar an important topic of the day without even knowing that intent.
Later on, the group was given an opportunity to experience a tree using only our hands with our eyes blindfolded. this way we can truly get to know that tree for it’s features without being seen. Afterwards we were encouraged to try to figure out which tree it was we had studied blindly. I felt that Rosie was a little young for that, and I didn’t force her to cover her face but we had a lot of fun watching our good friend Liam partake in the adventure. He did such a good job!
The biggest newsflash about this week was that the weather is officially cold! We need to dress accordingly in future weeks or we won’t last very long. Poor Rosie was very chilly and we decided to leave early to de-thaw! Usually she is very independent, taking her time, walking ahead or behind me, but on this walk back to our car we snuggled together the whole way. I always find that the best part about these chilly adventures is to finally come in the from the cold and curl up together with a warm treat.
Oct 9, 2018
My daughter pulls at the ribbons hanging from the branch and grazes her smiling cheek up against them. She weaves, and laughs, and admires them.
I sit crouched, camera in hand, and trail off to the sound of her sweet laughter and the shimmer of the river that catches light beyond the trees in the distance.
It’s one of the last warm days of the season and my skin embraces the comfort of summer, while my eyes relish in the vibrancy of Fall.
And as I sit there, fully present and immersed in every perfect piece of this moment I realize that it’s moments like these that make life beautiful.
It’s not how chromatically unified your Instagram account is, or how perfect your pictures. It’s about having mornings like this that steal you away from that account and make you never want to go back.
It’s not how often you travel or where you end up. It’s knowing that home is more beautiful than any of it because it’s yours.
It’s not about having lots of money to spend. It’s about watching your daughter find total joy in helping put each small item in the cart she helps you tote.
It’s not about what neighbourhood you live in. It’s about walking up that sidewalk and seeing every fallen leaf as another chance to play.
It’s not how attractive your spouse looks or how perfect your kid’s hair is. Its about the way their faces light up in a smile and how incredible they feel in your arms.
It’s not about those perfectly upholstered couches next to those perfectly positioned cacti. It’s about the comfort of its pillow to your cheek and the way your cat curls perfectly into your legs while you dream.
It’s not even the way you voice that beauty to the world or express it in other ways. Because the beauty is there for all of us. Even when we’re unhappy. It doesn’t go away, we just stop paying attention. Whether we choose to notice it, or express it, or put it in this pretty tiny box for others to admire isn’t the point. Where there’s nature, where there’s love, where there’s a choice to slow down our mind and savour the moments…there’s a beautiful life.
Sept 18, 2018
(Excuse the iPhone pictures! Didn’t think to bring my camera at first!)
Our first day with the Guelph Outdoor School was incredible!
Rosie was enamoured by the long walk through the trees before arriving to the camp fire and large group of kids and parents. She found rock after rock, and stone after stone. Carefully stepping over roots and rocks like it’s an art form she must master!
We sat in a circle and told the group what we are thankful for. I don’t think there is ever a time in my life when someone will ask me that and the answer won’t be Rosemary. She is my light. She has changed my entire life.
We followed the group and began looking under rocks to find salamanders, and I felt a lot like Timone and Pumba from the Lion King. Don’t worry – we didn’t eat any! I was so surprised to see how easy it was to keep Rosie interested in the task of finding new rocks to turn over and it truly showed me how simple children are. They don’t need such a fancy, fast paced life. Slow them down. Look under some rocks.
Later Rosie was playing with her good friend Liam among the trees and she came across a Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar. These caterpillars are poisonous and sting if they are touched on the top of their body. When I first saw her holding it, pictured here, I didn’t actually know she was holding anything, I thought they were looking at the tree. Then she came up to me and I quickly motioned it out of her hand. She was totally fine but it was a weird moment for me, because I knew that some caterpillars sting but I didn’t know which ones. I was also the kind of kid who was afraid of every single bug, and I certainly didn’t want to instil that fear in Rosie. I left thinking I had over reacted and maybe I should have let her explore it. Turns out, I was right!! So that was a neat moment for me! Sometimes it’s ok to be a little cautious!