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Two weeks ago, the signs of spring were all around us. The earliest buds on the first flowers in our yards were long gone after a weather walloping, but the second round of bloomers had a good start. A bout of thunder snow and half-pound hailstones wiped out quite a few of the second batch, but this past weekend’s spring soaker could mean that three times is the charm in the next few weeks.
These weather warnings are the “little things” that begin to signal not only the arrival of spring, but the coming summer months following close behind. It is not that this yearly transition doesn’t happen all over the country, it is that there is a certain quality to the northwestern Colorado spring. The usual seasonal changes such as kids on bikes and baby animals out in the fields have already taken place, but the lesser known signs are appearing each day. Each of them could fit the criteria for a list of sights and sounds that give us a clue this new season had arrived. They could all be listed under the heading “You know spring has arrived when …”
n One mother’s unsuccessful attempt to round up her busy preschooler was countered by the sight of one singularly focused youngster following closely on her heels — no matter that the compliant family member was a duck.
n A work crew preparing the baseball field had one crew member preparing the infield, even though it was under a couple of inches of snow.
n A few residents are spotted walking downtown in shorts and sandals topped off with a heavy coat, hat and gloves.
There should be no worry about “nature deficit disorder” plaguing any of our children. Swarms of them can be found all around town, playing on the playgrounds and in the parks. While the older kids entertain themselves with organized games and activities, the little ones imagine themselves adventuring all over the world from the safety of their own community.
“I’m in Africa,” one preschooler called out to his classmate from the swing set.
“There’s a big snake over here in the grass, don’t let him get you,” shouted another.
One adult was overheard to ask one of the preschoolers on the swing set, “Do you want a push?” She had no idea the child was already on a big adventure, and a little push would go more than a long way, as the child answered, “ Yes, I need to see over all these trees..”
While video games and television take up a lot of indoor time, once kids can get outside, they can keep themselves totally entertained. As researchers study obesity and television, discovering that restricting children’s time out in the natural world does affect their future negatively, the more reason the rest of us should listen. Listening to conversations between kids as they play outside tell us exactly why all of us should be encouraging educators to continue including both physical eduction and recess is the school curriculum.