Simple Nature. In the many books I've come across regarding the Steiner-Waldorf approach to education (which I completely admire but could not provide for my children in this area) the issue of 'sense impressions' is always discussed. Nature, for children as well as adults, is the ultimate 'good quality sense impression'. Nature feeds the souls of our little ones as well as their bodies. For children to play freely in natural settings is so good for their mental and emotional health as well as their bodies. I've seen it in my girls when they've had a tiring day, out they go in to the garden and run around being horses or they go up and down the path on scooters. They need it so much.
For our family these past few weeks simple nature has meant planting lots of bulbs for the Spring and growing 'forced' hyacinth bulbs in the house (just for their smell alone, gorgeous). It has meant digging in the mud in the garden to find worms and making them in to our pets, this was totally one of the girls ideas, I only knew about it when the worms were held up for me to see at the kitchen window while I cooked the dinner. How proud they looked (the girls, not the worms, they were just wriggling). We've kept a close eye on our one pumpkin and wondered when we'll get to eat it. We have been for walks to one of our local National Trust estates, admiring the autumn trees and collecting treasure for the nature table. It also included last weekend a day long bike ride along the 'Downs Link', how fantastic it was just cycling along in the sunshine in such beautiful countryside.
In Richard Louv's book 'The Last Child in the Woods', he goes in to great detail about the decline in children playing in nature and thus developing a strong connection to it. There's not time here to go in to the many complicated reasons why this is so but one thing did resonate with me after reading the book. Children need to play in and with nature if they are to flourish and our modern world is in great danger of depriving them of it.
Simple nature for the coming week then? A walk on the North Downs, time in the garden planting snowdrops, the girls have informed me they want to make 'potions' in the garden (sounds like a great excuse to mix some mud, water, leaves, etc,) and, as we always do, the back door will be open and out they go. In they'll come later with rosy cheeks, happy, dirty and tired - just how I like them!