Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Bring Back the Nature Table
I recently read an article in a British magazine “Country Living” which I purchase monthly.
It spoke about how children are loosing touch with their natural environment. Britain has started a campaign called “Bring back the Nature table”. It encourages parents and grandparents as well as schools to take their children out for nature walks; in the woods, parks, meadows, even the back garden. To let them experience nature, let them get dirty, let them get full of mud. Show them how to explore, forage, dig etc. I remember as a child always going off into the surrounding forests and woods-exploring, having awesome adventures. Building forts and poo fey-slides, (when you attach a wire to a tree on one end and to a higher tree or platform so that it slopes downwards. You then attach a rubber handle and holding on to this handle you jump off from a height and slide down the wire to the bottom)
We had great fun. I guess, and speaking from my own experience as a mom, things have changed drastically from the time our parents were children, to when we were children, to our children today. It is no longer safe to let them wander off exploring,even if it is a few meters in front of your own property, never mind in a nearby forest. It is said that if a child is not exposed to nature, to RAW nature before they are 12, that they will never make the connection with nature and this will stay with them for life.Let me quote the article as it put it so well, “If you ask an adult to think of a time when they felt most secure and happy, it's nearly always when they were a child playing in a natural place, such as a den in the woods or a park. Dr Bird explains : “But if they are not exposed by the age of 12, they will never make that link. A walk through the countryside will mean nothing to them-in fact, they may even perceive it as something to be feared.”.
Scary and Sad. I try and do things with my children outside as often as I can. If it a beautiful day, they have to play outside, and 9 times out of 10,I don't have to prompt them, they go on their own. Fortunately we have a lovely big garden with trees and a tree house too. I also take them on outings as often as I can, like to our local nature reserve. I realize they will never have the type of childhood I had, free and (relatively) safe, but I can to some extent give them that.
Anyway, although the article was for the British and the campaign is for Britain, this really applies to all Children in all countries. So I thought I would make a nature table for my kids. I gave them a table to use and I encouraged them to go outside and find things to display and decorate it themselves. I was so pleased with their sweet efforts and my daughter even arranged a pretty border of rocks and stones around the table. I told them that when we go on our walks, they must be on the lookout for things lying on the ground to add to our table, as things die, they will get replaced with new things.They are very excited about this prospect and with our 6 week holiday coming up beginning of December, I think this will be fun project. I might even start a nature scrapbook with them and dry out what things they collect to stick in.
I am so thrilled you all like my story! Thank you so much for the kind and positive words as it really was a big step for me sharing it to begin with! I will have to carry on writing it now so as not to disappoint everyone and leave it in the lurch!! ha ha. I have often wondered if writers think of the whole story in their heads, from how it will start to how it will end, or if they make it up as they go along. I for one, am making this up as I go along, although I sort of an idea the direction I want the story to take!
Without further Ado, here is Part 4 of "The Ivy House"
The Ivy house by Bonnie van Esch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 South Africa License
“Mrs March” said Sandy, “I wanted to thank you for opening your house to us for the holidays. I mean, I know we are paying you for it, but it it still must be odd having strangers come and stay in your house. My husband should be here in two or three days to join us. He is just finishing a work contract.”
“Oh my dear, it really is not a problem, I could hear by your voice over the telephone that you were a lovely young woman and every time I heard those little darlings chattering away in the background, I knew that is what I wanted again. The sound of children and life in this old house again. It's been 10 years since The late Mr March died. Poor George. So it has been lonely here all on my own. Just Gladis who stays at the back of the house. She does all the cooking and cleaning. And old Saul who comes twice a week to mow and work in the gardens. But this place really is too big for me now. I am getting too old for all this. So I decided to rent it out to couples such as yourselves for holidays. I still get to stay here and enjoy a bit of company and you get to enjoy your holiday, no cooking or cleaning to do. Makes a good deal don't you say?” Said Mrs March. “Oh, and call me Margaret” she finished.
“Well Mrs...I mean Margaret” said Sandy, “We are looking forward to it. You have a lovely big old house and the gardens look like a lovely place for the children to explore. And if you can't find a replacement maid, I really don't mind doing the cooking myself.”
“Nonsense. I Will find a replacement, what kind of holiday is it if you have to cook and clean? That's what you do at home-no doubt every day. All mothers need a break!” Said Margaret and chopped a big potato right in half.
Sandy began peeling and chopping the vegetables, while the children played happily on the floor. Margaret and Sandy chatted about this and that and then fell into an amiable silence. Sandy finished her last carrot and put down her knife and looked around at the kitchen. It was done out in Maple wood. It was a good size. Probably four by five meters. The ceilings were high with exposed wooden beams. That ran straight across from one side of the room to the other side. The cupboards reached high and on top sat rows of assorted tins: Biscuits, tea, coffee and sugar, lovely vintage images adorning them. The handles on all the cupboards were little brass knobs. All the appliances, except for the big old stove and oven, seemed to be new. Stainless steel and black, but somehow the old and the new tied in nicely together. Next to the laundry room was the tall pantry cupboard which stood open. You could step inside it to retrieve your goods. Inside was a cement floor with a small wooden stool for reaching the higher goods. Next to the pantry was a bookshelf mounted above the working surface. It was packed with cookery books, some with cut our magazine recipes that spilled out the tops. The stove stood with its large warming drawer. Along the next wall were more bottom cupboards and two large rectangular cream apron sinks. In front of the sinks were two large wooden windows that opened out. Pretty blinds with large lemons and strawberry's, hand painted it seemed, framed the view. The butchers block underneath had 8 wicker baskets, four in each row of equal size. In these where all kinds of vegetables and fruits. The aromas mixed and filled the kitchen with a lovely scent. The kitchen had a very old fashioned feel,but looked modern and country at the same time. It was busy but not cluttered. Only the necessary things were on dark wooden tops. The kettle, toaster, coffee peculator, and some jars of assorted sizes in stainless steel for sugar, coffee, tea and pasta's.
to be continued....