For as long as I’ve been a mother I’ve been encouraging these two to bond with nature. When they were tiny babies I would lay them on the grass in Springtime and pick daisies to place between their toes. As they grew, we started to collect things we found and foraged on our walks. Shells on the beach, feathers in the park, Queen Anne’s Lace from the hedgerows, seed pods and acorns from the forest floor, leaves in every shade from bushes along our street. I have jars full of our findings dotted amongst our home, each one as precious as the last.
Collecting as we went was a way of us talking about nature, it’s beauty and its bounty. We’d marvel at the changes as each season shifted, we’d admire the smell of our garden roses as they came into bloom and gasp at the wonder of wild flowers by the roadside. It’s impossible for me to leave the house now and return empty handed and every afternoon when I collect Raff from preschool he empties pocketfuls of daisies and rose petals he’s stowed away for me.
For Christmas their Gramps gifted them a flower press and I was inspired to start a nature journal. I bought a little scrap book for our journalling to begin and we started to document the beauty all around us. Each month, we’ll sit at the kitchen table and talk about what we notice in the garden or out on our walks. I’ll write down our observations and we’ll accompany them with our pressings and findings.
It’s a satisfying activity to do with the children because we literally build up a record as we go which we can refer back to whenever we choose. I’ve noticed their mindfulness about the beauty of nature is very strong. They’ll go out of their way to seek out things to bring home with them and they notice the little things that might otherwise pass them by.
For such a small and inexpensive activity we have reaped much joy. I hope to keep up this practise in the coming years, and as the children themselves blossom, to develop the way we observe nature – perhaps less documenting and more talking, or perhaps less talking and more documenting. Who knows, only time will tell.
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring