in the woods // a happy childhood

For Zane, on his last day at home before kindergarten:

There’s no truth about your childhood, though there’s a story, yours to tend, like a fire or garden. Make it a good one, since you’ll have to live it out, and all its revisions . . . Who knows if he’s happy or not? A child is all the tools a child has, growing up, who makes what he can.

— from “A Happy Childhood” by William Matthews

Zane and I took a walk in the woods today—it was the thing I wanted to do most before sending him off to kindergarten tomorrow. As we walked, we talked about the way that things are changing and I asked him if he felt he had experienced a happy early childhood at home with me. He said he had a lot of okay days, some good days, and some bad days . . . but, mostly good days, “as one would expect.” (Yes, he actually used an indefinite pronoun.) Every time I think about tomorrow, the back of my throat tightens. I don’t want him to see me cry, though, because this is his story, and he will make what he can. Perhaps if it hadn’t been such a happy childhood—perhaps if he hadn’t been such a joy to care for—I would be sending him off with a sigh of relief. I suppose we can relive pieces of our years at home together through my pictures, and our memories. I will surely remember more about his early days than he will . . . but, even then, when I am old it may be he who has to remind me about all of the adventures we had.

While you browse the photos of our day in the woods, perhaps you’d like to listen to a classical piece that I feel nicely represents Zane’s early childhood, “Concerto for Oboe and Strings, Mvt. 1 – Rondo Pastorale (feat. Celia Nicklin)” by Ralph Vaughan Williams (click play button below to hear audio).

in the woods - a happy childhood 1
in the woods - a happy childhood 2
in the woods - a happy childhood collage 1
in the woods - a happy childhood 4
in the woods - a happy childhood 5
in the woods - a happy childhood 6
in the woods - a happy childhood collage 2
in the woods - a happy childhood 13
in the woods - a happy childhood collage 3
in the woods - a happy childhood 14
in the woods - a happy childhood collage 4
in the woods - a happy childhood 15
in the woods - a happy childhood 16

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Kelli Ann Wilson

Kelli lives in rural New Hampshire with her husband Damian and their two children. She works as a writer, and in her free time enjoys reading, gardening, taking pictures, walking in the woods, and celebrating the seasons of nature and the feasts, festivals, and holy days of the Christian year.

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  1. August 30, 2016 / 7:08 pm

    Facebook won’t let me like this, and love it, and flag it as sad and happy all at the same time. I caught my breath when I saw picture number 5—he looks so old and tall, like he was stretched. And he looks just like me when I was that age. I can’t imagine anyone else that could have provided such a nurturing environment for a happy early childhood as you did Kel.

  2. August 30, 2016 / 7:12 pm

    Caleb still speaks fondly of the time he spent in the woods with your parents. He talks about exploring, climbing, collecting – all of the things I see Zane doing in all of your photos! This makes me believe, without any doubt, that Zane had, and will continue to have, one of the BEST childhoods anyone could ask for (Lil, too!) : )

  3. August 30, 2016 / 7:31 pm

    Over the past couple weeks I have enjoyed seeing pics of both your beautiful kiddos! I love their names too, very unique & special.

  4. August 30, 2016 / 8:29 pm

    I got to know the woods at day camp. It was wonderful, and I learned so much about nature.

  5. August 30, 2016 / 8:48 pm

    Have you read the book Last Child in the Woods, or something like that. Talks about the importance of spending time outside, exploring , in the woods, and how times have changed the childhood experience in the woods.

  6. August 30, 2016 / 9:02 pm

    Beautiful, Kelli. Brought tears to my eyes (and that’s difficult!). What a treasure you and Zane are–together and apart!

  7. August 31, 2016 / 3:14 am

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful story, beautiful people!

  8. August 31, 2016 / 12:53 pm

    Thank you all for your thoughtful words. It means so much to me that you took the time to read what I wrote and to respond. Zane is, at this very minute, experiencing his first day of kindergarten – let’s hope it’s a good one! 🙂

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