While there’s a lot we still don’t know about the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge, one thing we can say for certain is that the Gorge will look different afterwards. Fires always bring change - both the immediate kind and the kind that will take place over many many years .
This raises the question for us as parents: How we talk about this change with our kids?
First, it's helpful to remember that kids - especially kids ages 6 and under - don’t have the same sense of time as we do. The passage of years so critical to our self awareness doesn’t really click with them yet. Nor do kids have the deep well of memories that can engender strong emotions of nostalgia or loss in connection to events like the Gorge wildfire. Rather, kids naturally tend to be forward-looking because their life is still at its beginning. Their thoughts tend to be on what comes next.
While wildfires are a normal part of the dry season in the Pacific Northwest, in some years, it can start to seem like the will never come to end. The huge new Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge makes this year an even more challenging fire season than it already has been.
For some kids, the sight and smell of smoke and ash in the air (and the air quality warnings that force them indoors) might also spark worries, frustrations, or questions. Here are some tips for parents and caregivers for talking to kids about wildfires.
I love September. I love the bursting gardens and ripe apple trees. I love the spiders dangling on their webs in the sunlight, snacking on late summer bugs. I love how enormous the wildflowers and grasses - both seeding in this time - are in that last gasp of summer. I also love the excitement of the changing seasons and possibilities of a new school year.
Sometimes, when our son is dragging his heels on a trail, we turn to games and fun activities to try to help motivate him. The kinds of games we choose depend on his specific mood (“I’m bored” is a different than, oh, say, wanting to get off the trail). If you follow what we do, you know that our sticker maps have long been one kind of activity we’ve been doing (you can read our bio to learn more about how all that started). Here are a few other favorites activities that have also worked pretty well.
We are really excited about our packets for Tryon Creek Natural Area, the focus of the August packet for our monthly Super Nature Adventure club.
If there’s one thing I love about summer, it’s getting to see those snowcapped mountains on the horizon regularly again. July and August are just about the only months in Portland that you can count on them greeting you when you look to the north or the east.
Those snowcapped peaks are one of many reasons this we chose Powell Butte Nature Park as the location for this month’s Super Nature Adventures Club subscription packet. On a clear day at it’s highest point (600 ft), you can see four different snow capped mountains (plus lots of smaller nearby peaks) at once!
Hip hip hurray! It’s officially the Summer Season! Do you have an outdoor adventure (or two or three) planned? Whether it’s camping, hiking, one of our adventure trails, or just hanging out at a park, we’ve got you covered with a few tips and reminders before you head out.
It used to be that whenever we went hiking as a family, we were all "Go Go Go". Did having a kid stop us? No way! We'd strap him into a backpack carrier and head on our way no matter how long the trail. We were those people who'd brag about how far our kid hiked with us. Four miles, six miles… "oh, he’s good," we’d say!
Then...well, then he grew too big for us to carry him.
There was whining. There were fits. Sometimes he’d seem tired one moment and be running the next. Or he would do something that seemed designed to unnerve us. One time, he just took off running in the direction of the trailhead as fast as he could. Another time he sat down on the trail and wouldn’t budge.
A while back, we sent out a survey to families about hiking that revealed that the kinds of challenges we were having are pretty much the norm. Lots of you shared stories about your kid rebelling while on the trail. As many of you noted, even if you are committed to getting outdoors, when kids revolt, going hiking with them can feel like a really big slog.
There are few things I love more about spring than the return of bright colors. The pops of yellow, pink, white, and lavender wildflowers. That vivid green that signals new growth. Blue skies dotted by clouds and the bright white profile of Mt Hood.
This month, Super Nature Adventures is celebrating the colors of spring with a new subscription packet that focuses on the trail loop Camassia Natural Area.
We have a tradition of going on an outdoor adventure every Mother’s Day weekend. This year we ended up at Rowena Crest in the Columbia River Gorge. There, on the drier side of Mt Hood, we took a short hike along the rocky plateau to see the bright yellow balsamroots and purple lupines that are currently in full bloom.
I've always loved these Mother’s Day trips because they give us a chance to reflect on nature in transformation. And Spring...it really is SUCH a time of change. As the flowers appear, so too do insects and other small creatures. On this trip, it seemed like more than half of our time was spent watching bees and pausing for beetles making their way across our path.
Every spring is a little different. Last Mother's Day, we were able to hike on Mt Hood to Mirror Lake, while this year, because of our cold and wet winter, that trail is still partially covered with snow. Mother's Day is thus also a time for us to reflect on the regularities - and differences - of the seasons from year to year.
Over the years, these adventures have become a special time for us to bond while also taking a break from the hectic pace of spring work and school schedules. Our lives can get stressful, and getting outdoors is proven to help.