fbpx Print Friendly Logo

Want to share this page with your friends?

Nature’s Centerpiece: Bringing the Outdoors Indoors

Posted on: October 4th, 2014 by Carolyn

Ever since my children were very small, my husband has taken them outside to explore nature. I remember clearly my firstborn being just 8 months old, propped upon his dad’s shoulders, taking in the world around him. My husband would pick up leaves and grasses and run them across the baby’s face, letting him examine the smallest of bugs and rocks, and allow him to sit in the water as it gurgled over his toes. My husband and two children still spend hours on the rocky beach near our cottage overturning stones to scare out snakes, crayfish, toads, and bugs.


Nature is an amazing and free tool to engage people, or to calm them. Two people walking on a beach together could be in constant animated conversation, or in silent – but equally contented – communion. This is what I find with my boys. When outside, there is constant chatter (and occasional fighting, of course) as they hear a flap in the bush, see something skitter across the path, or hear a plop in the water – the promise of a turtle, perhaps? In other moments nature can stun them into silent curiosity.

In an attempt to tap into the power of the natural world, my family and I started a ritual of heading outdoors together once per week. During these excursions, I found myself drawn to the grasses, plants and flowers around us. I have become obsessive at times with gathering these goodies for my deck or kitchen table vase. I am perversely happy when I have fresh cut flowers or other varieties of plants centered on my table (note: I try hard not to pick things that are rare and/or which could get me fined). But the best part about this ritual? My kids have recently begun to point out items that they can then add to my collection bucket.

This exercise of us heading out together gathering flora and fauna for our table is—in my opinion—a simple yet powerful one. Not only am I slowing down to spend quality time with my children, but I’m also filling them up with something infinitely more interesting than re-circulated classroom air or TV signals. At the same time, we are also preparing a ‘piece of art’ for our table, something that signifies the specialness of a meal together.

Life today is hectic for everyone, and our family’s schedule is no different. Dinner often consists of me dashing around the kitchen, trying to pull together food items at the last minute that I can turn into something appealing to varying taste buds. I try to plan meals, but let’s face it; it doesn’t always happen.

But nature’s centerpiece on the table offers solace. It’s a reminder of something bigger than us; and of our time outside together. It’s something we can talk about, and something the boys can take pride in. A simple ritual that can reap many benefits.



Carolyn Parks is the Publisher of SlowStruck.com, an inspiring lifestyle site promoting the truth that taking time is the ultimate rush. Visit her site for engaging posts by over 20 contributors in areas of relationships, wellness, food, leisure, career, and community. SlowStruck can be found on Twitter @SlowStruck and on Facebook.