Going Wild

51gpiNPzMPL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)As I’ve stated before, this blog is meant to be a journal for my grandchildren. I wish I could have one from my grandparents. I would love to see their inner thoughts and principles documented to be shared with future generations. I was lucky. I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents. Their memories and principles are a part of who I am.

Even though I spend an enormous amount of time (by today’s standards) with my granddaughters, I still enjoy accumulating thoughts for their pleasure and reflection one day.

I am currently reading a book which touches something very dear to me. It is The Nature Principle by Richard Louv. I suspect there will be a greater need for the wisdom, presented between these covers, in the future and want to document my first impression of this book.

The connection between human beings and “Mother Nature” is fading. I believe that we must not allow our kids to grow up in, what I believe, is a two-dimensional environment. When we are out-of-doors and surrounded by natural things, we absorb an appreciation of our worth and rejuvenate our sense of well-being. Just the other day, my granddaughter (age 8) was feeling ultra-emotional about being left behind by her mother. I said, “Why don’t you go outside for awhile?” She did. The transformation was immediate. She calmed and came back indoors wearing a smile. This method, of adding balance, works for me everyday. I sometimes just step outside for a few moments yet find my mood benefits very much.

I’ve hardly dipped into the book but already know what, I believe, the author knows about our integral connection to the natural world and its importance to human health. I have described my feelings in the forest as “comfortably insignificant”. Somehow, the realization of forces and life struggles outside of one’s own “bubble” put things in a wonderful perspective.

The first evidence this book cited, was the “instinctive intuition” available to those who have had a nature connection in their lives, as opposed to, those who have not. A study of soldiers who have avoided roadside bombs simply from their “whole view” of their surroundings is quite revealing. Those soldiers who came from rural settings, and/or had hunted or hiked the wilds, somehow noticed the “something’s wrong with this picture” element. Their success in identifying “trouble”, well out weighed, those who had spent their youthful time in front of TV and video realities. I call the latter, a “two-dimensional” view. These people are not accustom to using ALL of their senses in order to navigate the world. They have never felt fully vulnerable like one does in the wild. Total safety, allows us not to need the details and detective work of survival. Interestingly, the other group who was “in tune” with danger, and had highly developed instincts, were those from rough neighborhoods in the cities. Feeling vulnerable, obviously, makes us wise and sharp.

My time in the woods has offered me the view, of a deer approaching, from my sense of smell alone. On a few occasions, I have smelled the wet fur (somewhat like a wet dog) before I have heard or seen the animal. We humans have many amazing abilities that our indoor existence has atrophied. These instincts are not simply meant to be kept alive but, may be crucial, in keeping us alive.

As far as detective work, I use it all of the time. Until now, I thought everyone did. For instance, this may seem weird, but I have a bird feeder within view of my bathroom window. It is very close to my parking area behind the house. In the morning, I am often in the bathroom when my day care friends arrive. If I believe I hear a car in my driveway, I look to my bird feeder. If the birds are still boldly feeding, I know a car really did not enter the area. If the birds scatter, then I expect a door slam to follow.

Everyday, I tell my kids to be detectives. Just last week, I was changing a diaper, right after the “drop off” time. I turned to one kid and said,” Your mom left the diaper bag in the car last night, didn’t she?” The 6-year-old was surprised and said, “Yes…she did!”

Then I asked her, how did I know that fact? She shrugged.
“It’s in the clues. Your brother’s diaper wipes are very cold. If she had just put them into the car, they would be warm.”

We use the “detective method” all day long. I believe it is very much a part of keeping kids really engaged with their environment. The skills for logical deduction are very important.

So, I will post other enlightening finds from this exceptional book. In the meantime, make time to be “wild”. 😉

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Reference Books and the Curious

English: An adult male Downy Woodpecker, Picoi...
English: An adult male Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens in Ottawa, Ontario (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was at my woodland retreat this weekend when my cell phone rang with “Grandma answer the phone!” I had added my granddaughter’s voice as a ringtone and I smile each, and every time, I hear it. When I answered, Katherine excitedly started describing a new bird at her feeder. How I enjoy being her favorite reference for birding! After a fun talk, we decided she had seen a Downy Woodpecker. My questions about what she had seen, hopefully, schooled her about what to look for in the future.

Although I hope she never gives up on seeking my opinion, I realized that she needed a few reference books for those rare occasions when grandma does not have cell service or ,(rarer still) doesn’t know the answer.

Yes, the internet offers quick access to information BUT I think reference books have a different and equal value. First, looking things up, using your head, not a vague definition, can really challenge a young mind to filter information… people need a triage of sorts for describing things and narrowing down their searches. Too often, someone will call the information line for a phone number after exploring only one avenue for the yellow page listing. Lazy! Can’t find hair dresser?…try beautician…try hair salon… and so forth.

I have ordered Katherine a guide to Eastern US Birds from Amazon. On top of fine tuning her vocabulary, she may have fun with discovering new birds to be on the “look out” for. Many times I start a search for a specific bird (in a book) which ends, half an hour later, having been drawn into information about others.

Books are portable, personal and they smell good too! Never overlook what they can offer, above the computer, to the young and curious among us.

Resisting Tidy Creates the Mighty

Over the weekend, I decided that my picnic table desperately needed a paint job . I invited Katherine ( my 7-year-old granddaughter) to help me give the table its “face lift”. We needed to take extra precautions and allow more time (all day) for the estimated completion but the value of this project , as a learning experience, soon became clear.

It would have been VERY much faster, and more tidy, to do it alone. I suspect that parents have a lot on their plate these days and easy/tidy options are a big temptation but, please consider, this list of the things that Katherine learned that day… Things that only doing can teach.

  • Supplying a project can be costly and must be planned.
  • Setting up is time-consuming but makes the job easier and better.
  • Our hardware store happens to have a candy counter!
  • Primer is a spray-on paint that makes the final paint last.
  • Dipping your brush in too far makes lots of drips.
  • Spreading the paint, too thinly, makes it start to dry and get sticky.
  • Waiting between coats, makes for a better cover.
  • Painting against the wood grain does not work, as well as, following it.
  • Painting is very tiring for your arms.
  • Always watch the edges for drips.
  • Work from the center outward or you’ll be leaning in wet paint.

People rarely are born with skills. They learn them.
Parents please resist that “tidy reflex”, as often as, possible. Include your kids in everyday tasks and you’ll take part in building mighty skilled people.

BTW-We both were scraping yellow from our ears, hair and arms for days after.

 

Grandma and Katherine's project completed.
Grandma and Katherine’s project completed.

 

Sissies are made, not born.

When placing a new status update on my FB page, I often touch on subjects of interest that I feel the need to expand upon. My status today reads:

There’s something about a kid having a panic attack over their peas touching their potatoes on a plate, or their fingers getting dirty etc., that makes me crazy! It seems such a small problem in a world where people starve. Let’s not raise a weak, self-centered generation.

Even my own granddaughter is subject to peculiar demands for special eating utensils or the removal of something from a plate of food with disgust. Some may think this is cute or well-mannered behavior. I think it is nuts.

If we consider all of the real problems that life may send their way, it IS nuts.
As far as germs go, the whole nation has become obsessive compulsive on that issue. Our immune systems need exposure to germs in order to become strong. I still recommend washing our hands after visiting the bathroom and ,as always, not have sex with any one without protection. (Try it with a lifetime partner, only, for the best safety.)

Over sanitizing our lives may create a generation incapable of survival in the event of natural disaster alone.
For a long time, schools were teaching skills that were necessary for a well-rounded life. Learning how to make a meal from scratch,or sew on a button,or sterilize water for drinking, might be great additions to the modern curriculum. How ’bout starting a campfire without matches? The way things are going only boy and girl scouts may be prepared. Heaven forbid our kids were lost, without a can opener, in a time of crisis.
The ,seemingly insignificant, cute, leaning of kids not to get dirty or refuse to eat anything that is not name-brand should be a wake-up call. Sissies are made, not born.

The most important tool we ultimately have is good sense.