My parents dragged us to parks as children. If you could drive to it from our house, we were there. Nature preserve, wildflower fields, garden or arboretum, it didn’t matter. If it was free you could bet my mom was packing up lunches for a day outdoors.
Hoagies and potato chips will always be my preferred hiking fuel.
Oh, how my sister and I would complain. You never saw such labored feet trekking back up a hill, or heard the likes of my high pitch whine asking, “why did we park so far away?”
Get the picture?
And then I had my own kids…
I’ve dragged Dek to every plant refuge, flower nursery and alpine meadow within a 2-hour driving radius of Seattle.
The irony is not lost on me.
I thought it was quite appropriate that we brought my parents to the Washington Arboretum when they came out for a visit after Ty was born. It was close by our house. It was free. Most of all, it would get Dek outside and worn out before naptime.
Dek and I had already explored the Japanese Garden, which was on the south side of the park. I wanted to stroll down Azalea Way, a trail within the arboretum. Spring was in full bloom; the colors would be glorious.
Not only did blinding yellow, luscious orange and bashful pink blooms greet us, but the Japanese maples were also showing off their feathers. I had no idea maples came in so many colors.
A mama duck was taking her little ones out for a stroll; a lone turtle sat on his rock watching the duckling parade go by.
One thing was missing from this foray into nature.
Where was the whining?
Dek didn’t make a peep. And why would he? His grandparents were giving him their undivided attention. He played hide and seek with grandpa in the trees. He jumped down steps, threw rocks in the pond and found a very friendly dog to chase after.
To a toddler this was the perfect way to spend the day.
I know I must have reacted the same way to nature when I was Dek’s age; before the hormones took over and friends were more important than spending quality time with my family.
I’m glad we have this time together before Mike and I aren’t cool enough to hang out with our boys. One day I too will force them to join us in a little family bonding time. Hopefully they won’t resent us too much.
I don’t blame my parents for the (looking back on it now) amazing adventures in nature preserves that we all had together. It brought us closer and made me appreciate all the cool (and free!) things I can do with my kids.
Now I just have to wonder… where’s my hoagie?
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Washington Park Arboretum (part of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens)
- 2300 Arboretum Drive E, Seattle, 98112
- Admission is free
- Arboretum hours: Open from dawn til dusk daily
- The Graham Visitors Center is open 10:00 AM-4:00 PM daily, except UW holidays
- Maps, restrooms and gift shop in the Visitors Center
- What’s there? 230 acres of gardens, natural areas and wetlands
- Strollers? Paths are accessible, but it would be easier to carry the kids in your Ergo or other baby carrier of choice. Hills aren’t too steep for little legs to tackle.