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Spencer and Gigi have plunged into the woods every day this week, looking for adventure. They come back smelling of the outdoors, cheeks rosy, eyes alight. Today after breakfast, we all joined them. Cool air and gray skies made for perfect hiking weather. Even Gracie joined us, sprinting ahead through the brush.

Everywhere, green peeps through—on the tips of branches, the ferns unfurling along the ground, bloodroot and fig buttercups dotting the path. We reached Western Run in only a few minutes, skirting the skunk cabbage that pops up everywhere. The water never fails to entrance us. To think that this wonder lies only a few minutes from our door still delights me.

Follow a path to an unseen destination feels magical, reminding me of the day we took our first walk after moving in, exactly seven years ago. We donned our jeans and hats and sneakers, and walked out our back door straight into the woods, with no idea of what lay beyond. We found the semblance of a path almost immediately, so we followed it, encountering a fallen tree that would serve well as a pirate ship.

The path took us deeper into the woods, and I began to wonder if we would eventually need to rely on my shaky sense of direction. What would happen if I got lost in the woods with four kids? And how big were these woods, anyway? Whose property was this? On we walked, losing the path to mushy brown grass but finding other landmarks on the way…a deer stand, and then another (and no, you may not climb up there even though it seems like a fun lookout). A few stumbling minutes later brought us to the edge of a stream where we could practice fishing and not falling into the water just because it was there. Eventually all five of us found our way home, and that first foray led to many others.

Now every spring, before the grass gets tall and the brambles leggy, we follow the same path to clear our heads and remind ourselves that the best things in life don’t require electricity: they bathe in warm sunshine and dress in shades of green.