“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time." -John Lubbock
My 8-year-old son and my 5-year-old daughter spent the entire afternoon with me at Wellfield Botanic Gardens this past Sunday. They love playing outdoors, but when they’re not outdoors they enjoy watching movies. So it was a perfect combination when a matinee showing of Shrek was made available in the gardens that day.
Like many of the kids in attendance that afternoon, mine would watch the movie for 15 or 20 minutes before opting to explore the many plants, trees and bugs in the Woodland Conservation Garden. Then, they’d return to their blankets on the ground to catch a few more minutes of the movie. Of course the free popcorn and Kona Ice snow cones played into their plans as well, but in general, they meandered back and forth between the movie and independently exploring the gardens throughout the day.
Wellfield Botanic Gardens
is an organization in Elkhart dedicated to promoting the inseparable relationship between water, plants and animals. To read more from its staff and volunteers, visit the gardens’ blog, Make Your Place.
As a parent, I loved it. They were drawn in by the entertaining movie and the fun snacks, but without even realizing it, they were learning how to appreciate the natural beauty and environment all around them. My kids play outside all the time, but rarely do they have the time or space to explore the outdoors without being funneled through organized instructions for how to interact with their natural environment. I’ve probably failed at giving them open-ended opportunities to be outside for no other purpose than to simply enjoy a beautiful summer day and get a little lost in the natural world around them.
Visiting Wellfield Botanic Gardens for a Movie in the Gardens started out as nothing more than an opportunity to do something as a family. It ended up being so much more. I gave my kids an introduction to the enjoyment of walking around in the outdoors with no purpose at all. It almost seems offensive to talk about doing anything without a purpose in mind, considering we all lead such busy and structured lives. I just hope that, as a parent, I haven’t become so structured that I’ve deprived my kids of an opportunity to discover for themselves the beauty all around them. Maybe they don’t need me or anyone else to tell them what they’re supposed to be appreciating and what they’re supposed to get out of everything they do.
As a business, Wellfield Botanic Gardens wanted to show a Movie in the Gardens to give families something a little different to do on a lazy summer afternoon. As a parent, I discovered the power Wellfield Botanic Gardens possesses to introduce people to an appreciation for the natural world.
This upcoming Saturday evening, Aug. 9, the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival is visiting the Gardens to host a performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Admission is completely free to all who attend and will begin at 7 p.m. The performance is going to be nothing short of phenomenal, but I hope a few attendees walk away with much more than just an appreciation for the amazing talent of the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival’s Young Company!