“Never be within doors when you can rightly be without. Besides, the gain of an hour or two in the open air, there is this to be considered: meals taken al fresco are usually joyous… All the time, too, the children are storing up memories of a happy childhood. Fifty years hence they will see the shadows of the boughs making patterns on the white tablecloth; and sunshine, children’s laughter, hum of bees, and scent of flowers are being bottled up for after refreshment.” -Charlotte Mason, Vol. 2, p. 43
Our home extends outdoors each time we look out a window or step out our door and so the atmosphere of outdoor spaces is worth considering. This is an area that can feel somewhat daunting, but needn’t be so.
Consider first, what words you would like to use to describe your outdoor space. Would you like a calm, restful space to read and wander? An adventurous space for romping, muddy play, and climbing trees? A natural wonderland alive with bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, and pond life?
Next, think about the your outdoor spaces – do you have a few window boxes or a small deck space or acreage? Is is usually hot and dry? Humid and temperate? Cool, with hard freezes? Unlike our indoor spaces, where you can fill a room with a seashell motif even if you live nowhere near the coast, the outdoors demand our obedience to the realities of our climate. Learn a bit about what is native to your area, so it is easier to grow and you are more likely to have success in your endeavors.
Then, start with something small and delightful. Do you want birds singing at the window?
Then get some feeders and start welcoming in some native bird species. I’ve had great luck with finches, chickadees, cardinals, and hummingbirds! What lives near you?
Do you want a place to gather for meals out of doors? It can be as simple as finding a favorite quilt to use for afternoon snacks in the yard or as elaborate as finding just the right table and chairs for your deck space. Do what makes sense for your family and budget, but make sure you find it a delight to spend time there.
Is having a cozy spot to knit, have a glass of wine, or tell stories around a fire your first priority for your outdoor space? It can be as easy as digging a hole and surrounding it with rocks, or as complicated as going to the local hardware store and finding just the right thing. Just make sure to not to start fires near dry grasses or too close to home!
What about the winter time? Many of us assume we should be outside less in winter because it is colder, but in some areas of the country it is the most beautiful time of the year. In areas with snowstorms, it might be fun to arrange for building a mountain of snow in the yard somewhere as a personal sledding hill. Better yet, do it in the front yard and entice the neighbor kids out of their homes! Putting out suet bricks for cold weather birds is also a lovely way to have a flash of red (cardinals) amongst the white scenery. Or, maybe maple sugaring is up your alley? I’ve even had my eye on the idea of a backyard ice rink… but it isn’t cold enough where I live.
The idea of spreading the atmosphere of your home outdoors can be as simple as washing your windows to see the outdoors better, or as complicated as calling a landscape architect to make a master plan for your property. I encourage you to do something this fall that will make next spring more pleasant for your space and that will cause you to desire to step outdoors more often.