Great Blue HeronLast Sunday, K’s agenda for the day was to move Ducky from the bathtub to a pond. Despite Ducky’s existence as a phthalate-free bath toy, I couldn’t disagree with K when he stated that ducks actually live in ponds not in bathtubs, so we trucked out to the Evergreen Brick Works to bring Ducky to his natural environment, with the caveat that he would have to return home with us too.

On every trip there, the Brick Works shows me that it is possible to truly re-naturalize Toronto’s watershed ecosystems. While having a snack by one of the ponds, we spotted the first of two Great Blue Herons, wading (and waiting) at the water’s edge. A few minutes later, we saw the second swoop down and land in a nearby pond. After tracking it down, we watched it fishing in the waters from a distance of less than 10 feet. K & E can’t yet appreciate how special it is to see these birds living in the city just a short bike ride away from our house, but they definitely were in awe of making eye contact with a wild animal, and happy to be there to congratulate it on catching such a large fish.

Moments like these remind me of how grateful I am to be raising my children in the heart of the city, yet still have plenty of access to nature. So many kids, and adults too, experience nature deficit disorder, especially when living in an urban setting. Time spent in nature has been linked to better outcomes for asthma, stress, and ADHD, but is equally important for fostering environmental stewardship, and facilitating our body’s natural ability to heal itself. I always feel better after a walk in the woods, don’t you?