By Anna Van Devender

A tray of cat grass is sprouting on my kitchen counter. These baby oats are 4 days old and 1 inch tall, just a little softer than a hedgehog. My cats will discover them any moment now and aptly devour the plants rather than admire their appearance. But my kids and I got to watch the tiny roots first, then the tiny, brave shoots, and within a day a miniature field. We got a little dose of awe.

I love the wonder of seeing things new again. I can grow the same thing in a new place and time – and catch my 4-year-old’s perspective of eyeballs at just the right height to imagine being IN that field of grass. The start of this new year finds me eagerly organizing my fledgling business. Recent new years’ past aligned with new jobs, new family commitments, or new classes to take. Every one of those beginnings led to this one. I take comfort in the pattern of new starts.

The winter sights outside I see through the new lens of writing Nature to You lessons. The leaves were fluttering down from the giant sycamores and cottonwoods along Swan last week. Who else noticed? Whose season might be brightened by the color and the change, Tucson-style? In our own backyard, each year I anticipate an expanded view of the Catalina Mountains when the neighbor’s desert willow and mesquites become bare. This year, I watched for birds in the branches. An ornithologist I am not, but I do wish to learn more about finches and sparrows in order to reveal them to new students.

Convincing my kids to leave the comfort of our house is a recurring challenge when it turns cold or hot outside. This winter, I am thankful for small successes: taking notice together of the sun’s sparkles just after breakfast (through the window); making time for taking trash out as a way to actually get out; and soaking up afternoon rays by playing in the front yard instead of the back.

Small things can make a big difference. It’s not a new idea. The newness is in continuing to find small ways to feel better, and in determining to make things happen no matter how small. What will you begin this year – or begin again?

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