Hello, I’m Karen, and I’m grandparent to Gabriel. A love of nature is the legacy I hope to leave my toddler grandson. Together we have smelled wild garlic, seen a frog surface from a pond, listened to magpies, wondered at a fox sauntering by – all within the environs of his urban home, where I care for him three days a week. We regularly spend time sitting and watching the ants emerge from the stones in his back garden, or scattering dandelion seeds with our breath. Simple pleasures, all around us.
I fear, however, that in today’s technology-heavy homes, the flat screen may win the day, keeping him indoors, away from nature, as he gets older. Technology has its place and is hugely beneficial in many ways, but learning about the wonders of nature second hand, boxed inside four walls, is no substitute for the real thing. I have one trump card: our home in rural Wales, where he visits us with his mum once a year. As well as being immersed in the countryside, we have, on our doorstep, wonderful beaches, long and sandy, with myriad rock pools full of interesting critters. His delight at experiencing these wide, open spaces and their many inhabitants, is a joy to behold. Long may it continue.
Another passion of mine, which my grandson embraced of his own accord from a very early age, is a love of books. Too young to read, he has memorised most of his favourite stories and will finish sentences for me as we sit, huddled together, captivated by tales of whales and snails, giraffes that dance, and kindly dragons.
Books and nature may seem incompatible, but I have enjoyed many a sunny afternoon, lying in my hammock outdoors reading a book, until my mind starts to stray, and my senses tune in to the sound of birdsong, the feel of the breeze, the sun on my cheek, and the smell of the hedgerows. Hopefully, one day, my grandson will enjoy this too.
First published in Issue 84 of JUNO. Accurate at the time this issue went to print.