Monday, May 27, 2013

Travel memories: much more than what meet the eyes

We went on a roadtrip across Alaska when Mara and Aïsha were 14 months old and Mathilde was just a little baby bump. We drove across the Kenai Peninsula debating if we would call her Taïga... Mara said her first word one morning in our old Boler while we were camped on the beach in Homer. "Nez, nez, nez (nose)" she kept repeating, pointing to her little peanut in the middle of her cute round face, giggling the whole time... They obviously do not remember how we were surrounded by the three glaciers that day while we sat on the shore to eat the wonderful clam chowder from the local seafood store, but I believe they felt the incredible energy of that place...

:: Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, winter 2006 (Mathilde) ::

Rudolf Steiner, who founded Waldorf education, states: "For the little child, up to the age of seven, everything, every action, every sight, sound, or other sense impression around the child is taken in and absorbed right into the child's inner being. These impressions become indelibly etched in the child's nervous system and can affect the development of the whole organism." 

The girls do not cognitively remember much from our life in the Yukon, the -40 January cold that bit their baby cheeks when they rode in their lambskin covered sleighs (and more often in slings on our tummies or backs), but we know they remember something much deeper than that. Their senses do. It is part of who they are now.
:: Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, winter 2004/2005 (Aïsha) ::

They remember some of the more intense moments, of course, like this one time during a salmon-fishing trip in Haines, Alaska, along the Chilkoot river when a grizzly came and stole our friend's catch! Of course, when our sense of fear is awakened, memories are created even at a very young age!

:: Silver City, Kluane Lake, Yukon, Canada, Summer 2006 ::

 :: On Montana mountain, Carcross, Yukon, Summer 2008, only a few days before we moved away
from the Yukon ::

 :: Camping in Northern BC near Muncho Lake under such a clear starry sky that
we will never forget... (2010) ::

 :: During the winter 2011/2012, we lived in Costa Rica for 5 months and the girls made friends with a lot of critters. They were afraid of bugs when we arrived. It didn't take the girls long to warm up to them thanks to the colorful leaflets that we bought, it quickly became a treasure hunt and they now have fond memories of stick bugs and leaf bugs and many more! ::

  :: In Costa Rica, we lived 10 minutes from a beautiful waterfall where it often was the only place to cool off. The girls have fond memories of this place. ::

 :: Holding and feeding a toucan at the La Paz Waterfall Garden, Costa Rica, is an experience Mathilde will never forget. ::

And the senses remember the very hot sand burning your feet while you are trying to run as fast as you can to reach the warm sea, the smell of the tropical forest after the rain during the wet season, the market hustle and bustle, as well as the mix of ethnicities in the subway stations in New York, the different languages in the ears, the calm quiet camping night away from everything and the northern lights. Ah! The northern lights!... Memories that encompass the cognitive mind.
 :: New York, May 2013 ::
I had the best example I could wish for just yesterday as we were collecting eggs with friends who are talking care of their neighbors' hens while they are away. While we were filling the feeder, two hens flew out of the coop and were on the loose. Mathilde, who was only 3 when we had hens and does not remember much, quickly acted and grabbed one perfectly on top of its wings slipping the hen on the side of her body to keep it from moving and brought it back to the coop. Somewhere, she clearly remembered. And I believe it's exactly the same for traveling... 

  :: Glacier National Park, Montana, Highline Trail, September 2012 ::

 :: Dry Fork Canyon, Utah, October 2012 (Aïsha) ::

  :: The Wave, Arizona, November 2012 (Mara and Mathilde) ::
 :: Snorkeling in the Florida Keys, February 2013 (Mara) ::

Now that they are older, the memories they are forming from the experiences they are having in our travels are incredibly rich. No book, lesson, movie, or YouTube could come close to leaving the same impression they had when we hiked up to the Wave in Arizona. I am pretty sure they will remember what they learned about aviation from our short visit at the Wright Brothers National Memorial and the Pueblo people while visiting Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, or celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans. And it's the same for learning about shells and sea treasures from a passionate man on the shores of Edisto State Park in South Carolina. 

It's the stuff travel memories are made of...

By the way, this was a group writing project inspired by a wonderful group of traveling families I am part of, so if you'd like to read their take on Travel memories and children, here are the links to their posts:

Mary from Bohemian travelers 

Nancy from Family on Bikes 

Alisa from Living Outside of the Box

Melissa from Break Out of Bushwick

Bethaney from Flashpacker Family

Jenn Miller

Kris Herwig from Simon Says - Traveling With Tots: The World is My Playground

Heather Costaras from Living Differently -

Kalli from Portable Professionals

Kirsty from Barts go Adventuring
Anne from The Journey is the Reward 

Sharon from Where's Sharon -

Annie from Practical Adventurology - "Why You Should Travel With Kids Even If They Won't Remember"

Lainie from Raising Miro on the Road of Life (and Aimee from Suitcases and Strollers):

Nichola from We Travel Countries - 

Tracey from The Expat Experiment -

Natalie from Magnificent World -


Francesca said...

i loved seeing those older photos Catherine!
i believe that many of the specifics are lost in a child's mind and memory, and what remains is the deeper concept. travel memories mean a sense of possibility, and an open mind to the diversity and richness of the world.

Melissa said...

Great post. Love the Steiner info you included in the beginning- thanks for that. Gorgeous photos, too!

Catherine said...

I love seeing those older photos too, Francesca! It feels like a lifetime ago!

Thanks Melissa! I really resonate with that idea from Steiner...

Ben said...

Selon moi ceci représente l'éloge de l'accompagnement de vos enfants. C'est simplement magnifique!

Catherine said...

Merci Ben, ça me fait chaud au cœur de lire ce beau commentaire. C'est ce que nous souhaitons profondément!

valeria said...

We all treasure our childhood memories...the more diverse, the better and more tolerant we grow up. Sometimes is travelling the safety of your family. Sometimes is travelling alone with the thrilling feeling of the unknown...sometimes other countries and cultures come to you directly :P

I am sure your ladies will follow their own dreams as you followed yours. Embracing the different and learning from every corner.

I love the Yukon picture...I admire and love the present Cat...but the old one will be forever in my heart (if not in cognitive memories).

Penny said...

Gorgeous Catherine, in every way.

We are going to Alaska this summer - I can't wait.

Flashpacker Family said...

Great post! I totally agree that children are the sum total of every experience that they've had.

Jenn Miller said...

Love it! Great photos, great stories... a whole life is made up of tiny moments, those we remember and those we do not... they form us just the same. Kudos to you for taking your kids and getting out there!

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

Beautiful photos!

Bohemian said...

What beautiful pictures and memories! It is true that these things stay with them always even when they d not remember the specifics:)

Looks like you and your kids have had an amazing life experience already!

Living Outside of the Box said...

Great photos! It's fun to see the ones from Canada and Alaska...oh...the memories! Wish we had met you when we were both still living so close to each other!!

I love the story of the chicken and your daughter naturally seeming to know what to do. Yes, muscle memory (brain memory, too!) is real!!

Heather Costaras said...

What beautiful photos... and what lovely stories you've been creating for your children. I'm so glad I've found your blog! :-)

Wheres Sharon? (Sharon) said...

wow what lovely stories and pictures. your kids are very lucky!!

Catherine said...

So touched to read everybody's comments! Thank you all!

simonsays said...

Beautiful and inspiring! You are giving such a wonderful gift to your children - to your whole family!

Natalie said...

Loved your post, it is incredible how much traveling and new experiences shape our children into who they are now... Pictures are gorgeous! Natalie from Magnificent World

Joanna said...

Cath, c est touchant de voir les photos d'avant! elle m'a tellement fait rire celle où JF est un géant et toi tu es tte petite, on dirait que JF a 4 filles!!! je pense que c est la facon dont tu es positionnée et que lui est en hauteur mais franchement c est très drole! OUI steiner a raison j'en suis sûre qu'on absorbe tout ca et que c est le plus beau cadeau que vous pouvez faire à vos enfants (à part évidement être des parents heureux ensemble et vous aimer) que de découvrir le monde ainsi. Je VEUX repartir en voyage!!!! bientôt bientôt!!!! j,ai hâte de vous voir, becs

Lainie Liberti said...

Stunning post and more stunning photos.

Kirsty said...

I loved all the pictures here :) Great post!