Finding COVID-safe adventures for my grandson has been a challenge. For the first 8 weeks of lockdown we only talked by video/phone. Then we carefully expanded our bubbles to include our two families. This allowed me to resume our adventures in consultation with his parents. We have explored more of the trails at Effie Yeaw Nature Area and walked round and round the duck pond at Land Park. There is always my own neighborhood and “work” in my garden.
We were on our way to the lily pad duck pond across the road from the Sacramento Zoo entrance. As we drove by, Cal saw the open sign and people walking in and I was anxious to distract him. The zoo is welcoming visitors with a reservation, yet we don’t feel an active boy of 3 and three-quarters will be able to keep from touching surfaces and staying a safe distance from other kids his age, so we are waiting. I quickly turned to park and lo and behold we were right next to the WPA Rock Park. What a delightful discovery!
It’s been here since 1940 and yet I never noticed it before, so we explored it together. Although I was definitely the support player in the imaginative play inspired by the landscape. Once we explored all of the trails and dodged some of the “muddles” created by the sprinklers, he began imagining he was a mama wolverine and he began looking for the perfect place for his wolverine family den. I was grandma wolverine. We spent over an hour exploring the garden and rock hardscapes. We didn’t make it to the duck pond today (although the huge lily pads are something!) and boy did we have fun.
Taking a walk with my 2 year old grandson always results in looking at the familiar landscapes with fresh eyes or seeing things I never noticed before. My neighborhood library is in an elegant home donated by Ella McClatchy. It is on the ironically named “Poverty Hill” surrounded by mansions. (And in a flood prone community it is a more desirable place to build.)
One morning my grandson and I explored the library upstairs and down before venturing into the neighborhood. Cal loves to run and I can stay apace through quick strides and distraction. “Look at this, Cal.” is one of my favorite tricks to give me time to catch up. This is how we discovered there are six lions living near the library.
“Part of normal human development is learning to notice less than we are able to. The world is awash in details of color, form, sound–but to function, we have to ignore some of it. The world still holds these details. Children sense the world at different granularity, attending to parts of the visual world we gloss over, to sounds we have dismissed as irrelevant. What is indiscernible to us is plain to them.” Alexandra Horowitz, On Looking (p. 26)
Travel can also refresh our ability to see. First, we notice so much more of everything wherever we go because it is unfamiliar. And then we see our own familiar home with fresh eyes and appreciation when we return.
One of the other ways we can train ourselves to see more of the rich detail in our lives is through “Eye Spy” type games. Cal and I love Momo books. Momo the border collie hides and his person Andrew Knapp snaps a photo. There is a series of books for all ages and one children’s board book for hardier viewing. The latest book is Finding Momo Across Europe and it is delightful!
I enjoyed learning more about Eureka, California on my last visit to Humboldt County. My friend teaches at a school near the zoo, so after we dropped some supplies off at her classroom we circled back to Sequoia Park Zoo. Harriet mentioned that they have an award winning otter exhibit and I was ready to faff around the zoo for an hour or two.
The zoo is about the size of the Sacramento Zoo, and a fraction the size of the San Diego Zoo, but still maintains a good variety of animals and does an exceptional job with the enclosures and displays.
We had fun and I’d go again, perhaps when I am not so tired.