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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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,
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.
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 for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.