Wild spaces

wilderness

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills is talking about the importance of preserving natural wilderness areas. She says,

“Wild places matter, even to those who are not active hikers or hunters. It’s important to our psyche to know that wild places exist.”

To say it is important for our wellbeing acknowledges its anthropocentric value. However, I believe, as I know Charli does too, that its value is intrinsic with significance beyond its importance specifically to humans. Wilderness areas are the lifeblood of our planet, of all species. They are just as beautiful and just as necessary whether any human lays an eye on them or not.

if a wilderness

I am not a hiker, definitely not a hunter, and have never been one to spend a great deal of time in the wilderness. However, I have a deep appreciation for the beauty and value of wilderness areas. I strongly believe in the importance of protecting them to ensure the health of our planet and the survival of our, and every other, species. Sometimes I wonder if our survival is deserved with the seeming disregard many of us have for our Earth, but I am a meliorist and place my hope with future generations.

To ensure this meliorism is well-founded, we need to nurture in young children their innate interest in and love of nature. There is probably no better way of doing this than through first hand experiences observing nature in wild spaces. Share with children their wonder, be intrigued with their explorations and extend your own understanding through their discoveries. At the same time develop in them an appreciation of and respect for our earth and its gifts.

Encounters with nature don’t always have to occur in large nature reserves in distant places. In fact, a real appreciation of nature is an attitude, a way of thinking about the world and can be fostered as a part of daily life with observations in the backyard, in wild places along the roadside, or in a pot on the window sill.

© Bec Colvin

Ladybirds in my backyard © Bec Colvin

Books also serve a purpose in nurturing an interest in the world around us. In addition to books of beautiful photographs, fiction can also be used.

4 of Jeannie Baker's books

Last year in a series celebrating Australian picture books I wrote a post about collage-artist and author Jeannie Baker who shares her passion for the environment through her picture books.

2015-09-19 11.09.45

Window tells, in beautifully detailed collage, of the transformation of a landscape from natural bush to city-scape. The changes are observed through a window by a boy as he celebrates alternate birthdays from birth to 24 years. Jeannie shares an important environmental message in a note at the end of the book with these words:

Jeannie Baker - planet changing

In 2004 Jeannie published a companion book to Window called Belonging, which, in 2005, also received a number of awards, including one from the Wilderness Society.

2015-09-19 11.11.04

This textless picture book tells the story of a changing landscape over a number of years as a city is transformed with plants and welcoming spaces for children and families. In a note at the end of this book, Jeannie says,

Jeannie Baker - time

I think these messages, together with those shared in Charli’s post, are important for children to not only hear, but to see modelled by adults in their everyday lives. I am happy to say that members of my family are proactive in the ways they care, and advocate, for the environment. I have much to learn from them.

For my flash I drew upon a recollection of a place visited in my much-younger years, a favourite place for calming mind travel, and Charli’s recognition of the benefits of wilderness areas to our psyche, to our very essence.

Charli’s challenge was to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about wild spaces. Is it a wilderness or a patch of weeds in a vacant lot that attract songbirds. What is vital to the human psyche about wild spaces? Bonus points for inducing something cute and furry. I’ve also tried for the extra points. I’d love to know what you think.

stream

Renewal

Cocooned in shadows of tall forest trees, clear spring water soothing tired feet, she sighed. Speckles of sunlight dancing from rock to ripple were unnoticed as she envied a leaf escaping downstream.

“Why?” she asked of the stream, more of herself. “Why are you here?”

The stream whispered,

“We all have our purpose’

We’re all meant to be,

We’re connected, we’re one,

Not just you or me.”

A birdsong repeating the chorus lifted her gaze towards a flutter of rare blue butterflies. A possum yawned and winked. She breathed in awe. Refreshed, with lighter heart, she was whole again.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

35 thoughts on “Wild spaces

  1. Pingback: Learning environment | Norah Colvin

    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Sarah. I hope you didn’t leave a comment. I have been back through and couldn’t find one or a response to it. I’m pleased you like the books. I haven’t heard of The Curious Garden. Is it one I need to check out?

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thanks for the recommendation, Sarah. It looks awesome. I have just ordered a copy. Interestingly enough I was having a conversation with Granddaughter about this very topic today. Even four-year olds can understand the importance of looking after our world. They probably understand a lot better than many adults. 🙂

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      1. Sarah Brentyn

        !!! 😳 I thought I left a comment. This is totally my family. Our boys are so respectful of nature and everything in nature. They love animals. We feed the birds and critters (chipmunks & squirrels) in our yard and they have many nature and endangered species books. They have grown up from a very early age respecting all living things so now it’s sort of natural. (No pun intended.)

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        1. Norah Post author

          Your family and my family, and thankfully many more. I’m sorry that your comment disappeared. I haven’t found it anywhere.
          I couldn’t imagine your boys being any way other than that you describe. They have a wonderful mother who leads by example, not just words. The wonders of nature never cease to amaze me, there is always more to discover and learn; and I hope it will always be so (that is, I hope we don’t kill off all the amazing creatures we share our planet with).

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  2. Sherri

    What an absolutely delightful post this is Norah. After reading your beautiful flash, I feel envigorated and refreshed. You sat me down at the edge of the babbling brook with the woodland canopy above me and I just breathed. Isn’t it amazing how in those ‘wild spaces’ we feel the strongest connection to not just nature and wildlife, but to our fellow humans… Reminding ourselves of the burden, the duty, to keep our beautiful and precious planet as clean and as healthy and as vital as we possibly can for future generations. The photos of the ladybirds are delightful. And those books..they look so beautiful, no wonder they won awards. What a brilliant idea, and the illustrations are stunning. I wish I could look at them right now! Wonderful post!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for joining me in my sanctuary at the brook side, Sherri. It is a great place to be both alone and connected. Invigorating. 🙂
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the post and the flash.

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  3. stuckinscared

    “A real appreciation of nature is an attitude”… Indeed. Attitude+gratitude. We are lucky enough to have some beautiful parks and gardens locally, which we (Littlie, hubs and I) visit often during the warmer months. As did we (my older kids and I) when they were small. And the back yard…Yes! There is so much to see, grow, embrace in garden… Though I have to say, as pretty as they are, foxes get attitude rather than gratitude from me. They are so destructive. Though, in fairness, they were here first.

    I loved your beautiful flash, thank you for that. I was there by that stream 🙂

    Lastly, I must thank you for the new words I learned here today. I’m ashamed to admit, I had no idea what ‘anthropocentric’ or ‘meliorist’ meant… I had an idea (though not quite clear) about the definition of ‘intrinsic’. I’m happy to say all three are now read (googled) and understood. Thank you, Teacher. 😉

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you very much for your lovely comment, Kimmie. “Attitude and gratitude” – I like that. 🙂
      You are fortunate to have local parks and gardens to visit. I’m not sure just where you are located, but I was impressed by the amount of green space in London when I visited in 2014. It did surprise me that foxes roamed the suburbs at night. Well, at least one was seen in the suburb where I was staying.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash. Thanks for visiting the stream.
      Glad too to assist you in learning three new words. It’s not that long ago that they were new to me too! I love learning new words that are actually useful. 🙂

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  4. macjam47

    Children are naturally nature lovers. It’s often adults who don’t let them explore the wonders out there just waiting for them. I don’t know why a parent wouldn’t take a child on a hike, let them cross a stream on a fallen tree, hunt for fossils, learn the name of birds and other wildlife, or any of the other wonders of nature. My children had boxes of fossils and interesting rocks they found while hiking in the forest. They participated in nature classes as toddlers (yes, mom’s were required to go along). Books are great tools to prepare children for what they need to observe while out in nature. They need to see the difference in the wildlife and plants between a woodland and a grassland. Jeannie Baker’s books look wonderful, and what better way to share the love of nature with children than through picture books such as these. Fantastic post, Norah.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for the enthusiasm of your response, Michelle. I agree with everything you have said. Observing nature has so much to offer. There are always “new” plants and animals to discover. Nature is intriguing – far more so than any sci-fi writers have yet come up with. The diversity is amazing. I love the sound of the classes you attended with your children. I can’t imagine having allowed my children to attend without me! There were “go bush” programs here too that helped foster that interest in nature and wildlife. I loved it when we (years one classes) took the children to wildlife sanctuaries and were able to get up close and personal with the animals. Delightful. Being a grade one teacher I got the opportunity for many experiences I didn’t have as a child.
      Yes. I knew you would share my love of books too! 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Was that a school in the UK? I’m impressed! Though one almost felt it possible to step into the pages of that book – like going on holiday. 🙂

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  5. Pingback: Wild Spaces « Carrot Ranch Communications

  6. Charli Mills

    Wonderful, thoughtful post, Norah and I love the inclusion of children’s books that encourage interaction with nature. The ladybugs (although I might start calling them ladybirds) are emerging in my house. I suppose they are interested to see what the weather is doing outside. Not yet, I tell them. (If a possum can wink, certainly a ladybug can understand me.) Definitely you get bonus points for something cute and furry. I like the beauty and pace of your flash, and also the questioning.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Ladybug, ladybird, ladybeetle all seem to be interchangeable names. I guess I use ladybird as it’s what I’ve always known them as, also from the rhyme “Ladybird ladybird fly away home”. The term is misleading because there are males and females in the species. 🙂 Of course Eric Carle has his “Very Grouchy Ladybug” book, but they are not really bugs either. They are really beetles. Perhaps I should get used to calling them that. Too bad I’ve written some resources referring to them as ladybirds. 😦 I have never thought of them emerging indoors. What do they have to eat there? I’m happy to assume the ladybeetles can understand you. I wish the ants would listen to me when I tell them that I respect their place on Earth – only their place is outdoors! 🙂 Thanks for your support re my flash. I had fun, as well as challenge, in writing it.

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  7. Bec

    Hi Nor, I love so many of the things you’ve written about here, and the beautiful FF. I agree with Kate’s comment – that appreciation of nature is an attitude. It’s all around us, all the time (unless we really and truly take ourselves into a sterile place, like the middle of a shopping centre, or possibly in a big industrial area), but even when it might seem distant we gain so much through knowing that outside of our busy lives, that nature keeps doing its thing.

    We have discussed in the past Louv’s book ‘Last Child in the Woods’, and how he discusses the importance of nature for children. There’s also this research which demonstrates the value of spending time in nature for children’s cognitive development: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/26/7937.short

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Bec. I must admit I was thinking of you a lot as I wrote this post, struggling for the appropriate words, and wondering what you would think. Kate’s comment is lovely too. Developing that attitude is crucial. I’m so pleased to see it being passed down through the generations. I must check to see if Louv’s book is available as audio yet. Perhaps I should just buy a copy anyway, put it into the Kindle Cloudreader with all the others waiting to be read!
      The findings of that research are interesting, and I agree that the benefits of green spaces are many.
      Thanks for sharing.

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  8. thecontentedcrafter

    Yes, yes and yes [of course! :-)] I concur, and feel as strongly, with all you have written here and even though I am not a possum fan [do you know how much damage they do here to our native bird and plant life?] I can appreciate the thought 🙂 Another excellent and far ranging post Norah, thank you xo

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much, Pauline. I do understand your response to the possum. They are quite a problem in NZ aren’t they? Feral animals are a problem everywhere. I think possums are rather cute, in their rightful habitat, though.
      I have been thinking about you with the earthquake over there in the past few days. I hope you are okay?
      Thanks for your lovely support. xo

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      1. thecontentedcrafter

        Thank you for your thoughts Norah. Christchurch, once again the hardest hit by this latest round of quakes, was my home in the 80’s. Now I am five hours south and didn’t feel anything. I have many friends there who suffer PTS having lived through the events of the past three – four years and who once again have to cope……….. It is so hard for them.

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        1. Norah Post author

          It must be terrible living with the constant fear. I am so thankful the worst we have to contend with is cyclones and floods. I thought Dunedin was mentioned as having felt the tremors though. I’m pleased you are okay. Not so pleased for all those who suffer.

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  9. Annecdotist

    You don’t need to travel far into the wilds when you can zoom in on the amazing insect life on your doorstep. And yes, I think you qualify for the cuddly prize – although never having seen a possum and I have to take your word for it that it can wink!

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  10. katespencer17

    There were many good messages in your post, but the one that caught my attention immediately was: “A real appreciation of nature is an attitude, a way of thinking about the world and can be fostered as a part of daily life with observations in the backyard, in wild places along the roadside, or in a pot on the window sill.” So true! And I loved your flash and the message from the stream. Beautifully done!

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