Earlier this week, the two youngest of our 3 girls were drawing pictures for both Shan and I. The perfectly drawn trees and mountain ranges had faultless shading in the moonlit skies they’d depicted. The curved text rounded off the sphere in which the natural world was encapsulated. It was impressive, to say the least.
They’d been watching their older sister, T, the week before sketch. An avid artist, T’s drawings are over my walls in my office and mandala’s stuck all over her bedroom walls. It’s a therapeutic outlet for her. The girls are impressed with almost everything that their older sister does. So mesmerised by her they had taken the opportunity in these self-isolation days to create some pictures that would too, adorn the walls in my office.
These impeccably drawn nature scenes with tents set by the mountains, tall trees and campfires gave me a beautiful idea. Whilst Easter camping was cancelled and we would have to wait until we could hike Mt Buffalo and explore local trails in the Great Alpine, I decided to create a mini-adventure for them right here at home.
An illusion perhaps, much like their perfectly drawn pictures, it was met with the same loving intention; happiness.
Writing up their invitations, designing their maps, I plotted a course around the local trails and sights they’d see. Tracks differ from pine-lined creeks paths, running through the back of rural properties to gum tree laden nature reserves that serve as a conservation area for native animals and regeneration of gum species.
As the landscape shifts so too the adventure that plots their course. The excitement that is met at each turn, the anticipation of an unknown journey, backpacks ready for anything. We share lunch in a clearing near the trickling creek accessed by a small bridge. With our Jetboil we boil water and add to our lightweight hiking couscous and tuna, the girls favourite.
The grand tree canopy overhead with autumnal yellow tones gently flutters their leaves to the ground. We collect different foliage along our trek to make some nature confetti later.
Maddy remarks the difference of texture in the dry, crunchy oak leaves to the soft, bendable leaves of the freshly picked gums. It's remarkable how quickly these girls fall into the sensory experience of nature.
We end our lunch break with a mindfulness exercise; silence to tune into the environment around us, using only our senses. Whilst it is extremely hard to keep 2 young girls quiet for more than a few minutes, there was a noticeable shift in the presence and calmness of our space.
Continuing along the path, tents and sleeping bags in our packs, the girls remark “we are surely going to set camp up somewhere tonight”. With a cryptic answer that only further confuses them, they scramble to figure it out, one before the other.
We pass the property where the friendly goat lives, it is part of our normal nature hike, and the girls are confused. Surely we wouldn’t have carried the tents and the sleeping gear if we were to come home today…They'd have to wait and see. The anticipation brought a smile to my face.
We turn the corner and into our street. A look of disappointment sets on their faces and they exclaim deflated “We are home!” With childlike interjection, Shan and I protest that we are not, as they would assume, home and in fact, we are at "Camp Connell". We will set up camp by the fire at night and sleep here.
With their 10 & 11-year-old minds running, they laugh at us before following suit to set up the tents, their hiking mats, and sleeping bags before lighting the fire. Collecting the kindling from around the yard, we ate home-made fish and chips by the warm fire, shared stories, and toasted marshmallows. Slipping into our tents after 10 pm, the rain soon started. The sound of raindrops on the tents soon put us to sleep.
The girls' dream of adventure as do we. To create something special in these times for our children, will help them appreciate the simple things. To spend quality time with them will help them understand the nature of our collective circumstances.
As adults we experience anxiety and stress in these times, it’s only natural that your children will too. Not everyone will present with the same symptomology. If you’re concerned, some useful numbers are as below:
If you need help or a loved one is struggling, these are the numbers to call;
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Headspace on 1800 650 890
Adventure is out there!