It is getting hot now. Often too hot to be outside without feeling like I have stepped into a sauna. Not a dry one, but one with high humidity that makes me want to change my clothes as soon as I step into it. The Japanese summer has arrived and I am both looking forward to the next month as well as dreading it a little bit. Kindergarten’s summer holiday is also here, but high temperature days make it difficult to enjoy free time doing outside activities, so what we have come to do apart from using early mornings and cool evenings, is to take every opportunity to go outside those days when the temperature is a bit lower and the clouds are helping us avoid the sun.

The other day the temperature was suddenly supposed to be below 30 and a grey sky was all I could see, so I decided to make a fun morning for my son with a pick-nick and some water play at the activity center up on the mountain side. We prepared some lunch, packed our backpacks and took the bike up to the outdoor center. I had expected to see many people there a cooler day like this, but as it turned out, except for a couple of people mowing the lawn, we had all the big park area to ourselves. We have come here many times before and my son is very familiar with the layout of the place, but I believe we have not been here since my eye surgery in February so we were both very excited to finally be back.

Coming back to a well known place after a long time puts such a focus on how quickly a young child grows. The everyday life where we are growing together little by little makes it impossible to really appreciate the big differences that those small changes add up to. But coming back to the activity center this day and remembering our outing here six months ago, was like suddenly in a few seconds being swept forward half a year of childhood development. The steps where before I had to hold his hand, my son was now easily climbing and descending by himself. The edge of the mountain stream where we usually have our lunch has always had me a bit on my edge before, but this time my son sat proudly by himself with no inclination of doing anything dangerous.

After lunch we enjoyed dipping our feet in the cool stream, and when we were putting on our shoes my sons suddenly became very agitated. What looked like a little Japanese badger had suddenly appeared and looked at us curiously before continuing its adventure in the activity center. My son’s discovery made him so excited that he could not wait to go home and tell his mum. Thank you badger, I thought, you saved me the always tricky part of every outing – convincing my son that it is time to get back home.

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