By Heather Roszczyk, Market Assistant
How much dirt can a 10-month-old safely ingest? These are the kinds of questions on my mind these days as I contemplate the summer ahead. Having just turned 6 months old, my son is not yet old enough to truly enjoy the plethora of kids’ activities in the area. Instead, I’ll be bringing him along on my grown-up adventures – hiking (we already have the backpack, though we almost gave him frostbite on the trial run…oops), biking (we’re scouting around for one of those great front-facing seats), day trips up to Headlands, visits to the market, gardening, etc. The gardening is what has me contemplating soil consumption – the entire world is one big chew toy from his perspective, and I have a feeling that while I’m ridding the plot of weeds, he’ll be hoovering up dirt like it’s a French delicacy.
But for kids of older, wiser years, there are plenty of other places to get out, get dirty, and have some fun. Pick up a copy of the Spring Schedule of Events for CVNP and look beyond the towpath for information on all kinds of kids’ activities, from Junior Ranger bird watching, to fishing, to a special Easter egg hunt. Several Countryside Initiative farms offer excellent children’s activities like the Blessing of the Sheep at Spicy Lamb Farm, or berry picking at Greenfield Berry Farms. And all of the farms are a wonderful place to teach kids about where food comes from. The Hershey Childrens’ Garden at the Cleveland Botanical Garden is well worth the trip, full of winding little paths and pint-sized hidden treasures. There’s nothing like hitting one of the beaches on a hot summer day – perhaps with a little old-fashioned ice cream afterward? (For grown-ups, the deliciousness of the bananas foster ice cream with homemade caramel sauce cannot be overemphasized.) And of course, the Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow is a wonderful weekend destination. With opening day just a month and a half away, we are looking forward to a new season full of friendly faces, fun activities (like the return of last year’s popular pie contest), and of course loads of delicious, local food.
Finally, don’t discount the fun that a backyard, a neighborhood patch of woods, or a grassy field can provide. If you haven’t read Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, I highly recommend it. Sometimes all it takes to fill a summer day is a miniature patch of wilderness and the freedom to explore it. And dirt. Lots of dirt.