by Camille McFarlane
Source: Family Resource Guide
Originally Published: October 2013
It was a rainy Thanksgiving Monday two years ago when my neighbour knocked on our door.
“I’ve decided to embrace the rain,” she said. “Come out and play with us!”
She was dressed in colourful rainboots and a waterproof jacket, the hood pulled up over her head. Behind her the rain poured down, almost sideways, and her two boys, both in their rain suits, splashed each other and stomped around in the rain.
As I stood watching her boys and debating whether or not to join them outside, my two-year-old daughter pushed past me running to greet the boys in only her bare feet. Decision made, I bundled up my six-week-old baby in the carrier, put my partner’s rain jacket over top of us, and managed to convince my daughter to come back inside long enough to put on her rain pants, jacket and boots. We spent nearly two hours out in the rain that day, driving toy trucks, riding on ride ’em cars, and splashing in puddles.
Now as another rainy season starts, I am reminded of that day and wonder how I will embrace the rain this year. The big kids have moved on to riding bikes and scooters and racing up and down our quiet street. No longer a baby, my youngest is now enthralled with splashing in puddles and searching for worms. We’re all decked out in our rain suits and ready to explore. Where will we head this year?
My favourite outdoor rainy day activities tend to be in forested areas that provide a bit of shelter from the wind and rain.
1. Goldstream Park. We start going around Thanksgiving and return every couple of weeks to see the progression of the salmon run and to watch the eagles soar. The kids are fascinated by the fish, both dead and alive, and the multitude of birds scavenging for food. The lush forest provides a bit of relief from the rain and it’s always comforting to warm up in the Nature House while learning a bit more about the salmon run, colouring a picture, or borrowing binoculars to spot eagles. The Nature House is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day and admission is by donation.
2. Thetis Lake. This is a popular destination in the summer, but we frequently go for walks around part of the lake even in the rain. If we’re with friends, the kids tend to be motivated to keep going. We also like to collect nature treasures. Sometimes we’ll make a plan for what to collect, other times we’ll just find treasures on the ground, such as giant maple leaves, acorns, or fallen bark which we can then take home and incorporate in a craft.
3. Swan Lake Nature House. Open year round, Swan Lake provides visitors with many walking trails, some sheltered by the trees, and others more open around the lake. Regardless of sun or rain, we always bring or buy bird feed in the Nature House before heading down to the lake. The kids are always excited to feed the ducks. After a walk through the forest and along the lake, we return to the Nature House to see the turtle and other resident creatures. Swan Lake Nature House is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday and from noon to 4 p.m. on weekends.
Some days I just don’t feel like playing in the rain, so we’ll attend a StrongStart program, a library event, or a playgroup at one of the neighbourhood houses. Other days when we want more of an adventure, we’ll drive to Sidney or go downtown to one of Victoria’s many tourist destinations. My friends often tease me about having every yearly pass possible in the city. Here are two of our favourites:
1. The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. Each time we go to the Discovery Centre we learn something new. Most days there are crafts and on Tuesday mornings throughout the school year, the Centre runs Tot Tuesdays, providing crafts, stories, and marine-themed activities. The kids’ eyes are always filled with wonder at feeding times or on the rare occasions when the octopus spreads out and consumes what seems like the whole side of the tank. Their favourite part is definitely the touch tank. I find it fascinating how observant even my toddler is at noticing the changes in the tank and the different species present or missing from the last time. The Centre is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the winter and spring.
2. Royal BC Museum. Soon after we first bought a family season’s pass to the Royal BC Museum, it became a favourite destination, with the kids always asking to go see the woolly mammoth that we nicknamed “Big Angus” after one of my daughter’s stuffies. Not only does the museum provide insight into the province’s history, but it also offers an opportunity for the kids’ imaginations to soar. The Royal BC Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with some days open till 10 p.m.
Many of our rainy days are filled with play dates and crafts at home or quickly getting dressed to enjoy the occasional brief reprieve from the rain, knowing full well that by the time we get outside, it will probably be raining again.
It’s raining today. This morning, my daughter refused to go outside, still longing for our sunny summer days spent at the beach. It didn’t help that she’s outgrown her favourite pink rain boots. So instead of going outside, we did a “messy” craft and baked cookies. Tomorrow I must invest in some colourful new rain boots for us all. That’ll get us out in the rain for sure!
Camille McFarlane, previously a teacher, is a stay at home mom whose days are filled with outdoor adventures, crafts, dancing and lots of laughter.
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