Friday, 1 August 2014

Welcome to The Den of Wild Intrigue

"A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood."
- Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder.

My 18 month old self, discovering flora & fauna. 
I have been wondering lately how my childhood might have led to the endurance of my deep sense of wonder and 'youthful' adoration for Nature. For those of us who spent time our childhoods with muddy, grazed knees, sky-gazing eyes, and pockets full of feathers and eggshells - it seems our curiosity and 'inner wilds' have decided to stick around beyond the age of 12. My car (and hair, for that matter) can usually be found to have the occasional scavenged flower or feather in it.
Reflections of my childhood spent in Nature often wander back to the same memories, such as :
Fox cubs on a rail line.
Eating chocolate cake under an Oak and feeling safe.
Scavenger hunts instead of school.
Squawking back-alley gulls.
The chilling scent of Autumn.
Tiptoeing over jellyfish.
Baskets of foraged berries.
...Sneaking foraged berries from baskets.
Searching for newts in the beck.
Crying uncontrollably at boys kicking a pigeon.
My crippling fear of bugs.
Weeklong heartbreak upon discovering Canada's Seal Hunt.
I believe all of these, on some level, have influenced my adult life so far, including:
Researching South Africa's invertebrates, and being intrigued.
Tears of disbelief seeing my first wild leopard.
Spending spring evenings with families of foxes, and feeling welcome. 
Feeling secure in woodlands.
Constantly watching/thinking about/working for wildlife.
Waking for the country dawn chorus, appreciating the melody.
Yearning for Autumn, and its lingering aura.
Acting for the voiceless. Not shedding a tear.
Graduating in Wildlife Conservation.
Rewilding young people.
Questioning everything & having an endless sense of wonder.
My 'childlike' wonder of Nature showing itself when feeding Coal Tits in Loch Garten last year.
As a child I played endlessly outside. Rollerblading, skipping, climbing trees, climbing walls (falling off walls), being stung, being bitten, being chased... being happy.
I played freely, I learnt about the world I was growing up in, and I survived!
With threatening echoes of punishments being handed from police authorities to freely playing children, ball games, woodland exploration, and den building are on the decrease, soon to be whispers of childhood past. Glorious summer days are passing, neglected; streets are wintry - devoid of inspiriting giggles, excited screams and water-fights.
Reflecting on my own childhood, I now understand how opportunities for heuristic play and cognitive development are crucial for children to be healthy, happy and inspired. Whether a child's home patch is urban, suburban or rural, the availability of free land for that child to play, learn and discover, solely and socially, is essential. So, how is it that only approximately 3% of England's landscapes are registered as 'common lands'; half of which are less than 1ha in size, with the majority being protected sites such as SSSIs.
The safeguarding of wild spaces in communities, bursting with natural curiosities inviting children to smell, touch & adore; for children to adventure through constellations with friends & family, needs to be a priority. Before it really is too late.
Who greater to inspire, teach and motivate children; to give these young, porous minds such important lifelong lessons, than Nature?
With every gull's squawk sailing through a back alley, every fox's haunting yell, every slugs invasion into a shoe, every school-field daisy opening in the sun; there are opportunities for children to be inspired, to learn, and to get that unforgettable buzz of connecting with something wild (you know the one).

I get a buzz from all intimate wildlife encounters; including camera trapping this fox cub recently
Nature freely offers infinite lessons and memorable encounters. A self-preserving army of ants marching on a curb is a lesson in biology, a memorable muse for storytelling, and encouragement in the face of fragility. The rise of a Blackbird's melodic dawn call may invoke the wonder of how a song with such determined intent, can be articulated with effortless, desirable grace. In a world where human communication is becoming so detached and undignified, the enlightenment of composed self-expression gained from hearing a Blackbird's song is boundless.
To be a child is to be inspiringly wild, to be endlessly intrigued. I am passionate about affording children opportunities to be wild and intrigued in their schools, and I would love to hear any stories from my readers who are doing the same. Whether you're a teacher, parent, naturalist...I'd love to hear how you're sharing your timeless, childlike curiosity for all things wild with young people.
Welcome to The Den of Wild Intrigue.

- Heather-Louise

1 comment:

  1. My favorite memories are camping in the woods in open cabins or tents.
    I have loved trees as far back as I can remember.
    Snow. Sking from ages 11-22 and again in my 40's
    I love the moon and stars. The beauty and sacred benevolence of the universe. How there is a greater power at work guiding it all
    Creating ice patios to skate on in our backyards
    Boating in the Puget Sound and Canada with my father. There is another peaceful world to connect with. I love going to sleep in a rocking boat.
    And birds are my connection to nature and reminder that we too can soar high towards freedom. It thrills me to share all of these aspects with young children as a Sharing Nature teacher, and Trainer.