Nature Baby

The Wee Baby Abel at 8 months old. This was one of his first big beach days.

Before I had my little one, I had visions of how lovely it would be for him to grow up here on island, especially when it comes to having access to nature. I love to walk, hike, swim, or just float; and I pictured the little one tagging along on all these activities. I even hoped — ok still hope! — that as he grows up we’d even learn some new outdoorsy skills together.

I’m not sure if he managed to absorb these daydreams in utero, but this kid really loves to be outside. I’ve been loving the calm seas we’ve had for most of this summer in part because it’s meant plenty of time in the water for us both. For now, the baby normally sits in a floating seat, which keeps him entertained. He splashes us both for stretches far longer than I usually expect from a single activity given his miniature attention span.

He’s just as rapt by the outdoors on land. Let’s just say, for example, that I’m carrying him from a building to a vehicle. If there’s a tree or bush nearby, he must reach out a chubby little hand to try to touch it. If I then run into someone I know, he will squirm to be put down and out both hands go in search of leaves and rocks to inspect and feel. Maybe you’ve seen viral videos of kids who hate the feel of grass on their skin. When my kid gets near grass that’s even sort of green, he strokes it like it’s a favorite pet.

He also really likes animals. He will watch dogs, cats, and larger lizards as though they are putting on a show for him. Probably because they make noise, he especially loves birds. After a while, he will babble at the animals in a friendly way, like he is conversing with them. My favorite is when he extends a hand and holds it out toward the animal. Does he think he can Jedi Mind Trick animals into coming closer to him? I laugh every time.

His special favorite creatures at the moment, to my embarrassment, are chickens. He doesn’t understand that feral chickens are pests that only tourists find endearing. To him, they are exciting friends to shriek at and to follow around. I’m very curious what he plans to do if he should ever get close to one, but my guess is the chicken would get the classic baby pat-pat move that our cat at home has become very accustomed to.

This column first appeared in the Sept. 27 edition of the Limin Times.

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