There is a part of me that was less than ecstatic to buy a house one town over from where I grew up; I always imagined I would move someplace else... not necessarily far away, just somewhere very different than the place I knew as a child.
But having kids has a way of changing things, and as we thought about buying a house, there was much discussion about the ways we wanted to raise our children (in a place with lots of space and a slower pace) and what we valued when bringing up little ones (the support and closeness of family). We chose to stay here, where all the grandparents and a good deal of aunts, uncles and cousins are all close by.
So we find ourselves on the outskirts of Chicago, with nearly every major store within a 2-mile radius, and yet I still feel we have the bit of nature and seclusion I so wanted for our children.
I am astonished by the variety of wildlife our small neighborhood contains, bordered as it is by major roads on all sides. In the creek, we have found crayfish, frogs and several varieties of fish. Ducks and geese make their nests along the shorelines, herons stop by to visit the marshy, low lying areas. We have watched red foxes and coyotes in our yard, not to mention the usual residents of skunks, possums, raccoons and others. Even with all of this, it was a surprise yesterday afternoon to see a beautiful doe walking along the creekbed in our backyard.
Charlotte's excited cries of "deer! deer!" soon sent the deer on her way upstream, which sent the big kids into the house to prepare for an important adventure trying to follow her through the neighborhood. They assembled the necessary supplies:
And off we went on a tracking expedition.
It was a decidedly spontaneous way to turn what had been a very stress-filled day into a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. We walked the creekline through the neighborhood, stopping to investigate any signs of interest along the way.
We made our way, watching ducks fly overhead, hearing frogs splash into the water at the sound of our footsteps, listening to the gentle babble of the water and the rustle of the cattails, taking in all the sights along our path.
At the end of our journey, we stopped to enjoy a snack of bread and jam creekside with the children's aunt, and I found myself once again so pleased to be here, in this place, with family so close and adventures out our door.