Friday, August 1, 2008

Country Girl in the Making

One of our fondest hopes about this farm is that our grandchildren will like coming here. I know that that hope is loaded with psychological projection—we like the farm, so you’ll like it too! We had fun at our relative’s farms, so you’ll have fun at yours too!—but I like to think that our hope has to do with something bigger than ourselves and the satisfaction of our grandparental egos.

By now, lots of people are familiar with Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, in which he coins the term “nature deficit disorder.” The book hit a nerve because he gave voice to something that everyone knows already, but couldn’t quite remember in the midst of our modern lives. We need to be near nature on a regular basis. Kids need to be in nature as part of their normal development. Preferably, they need to have unstructured play time in nature, time to make up games, sit in trees, build forts in the woods, explore rotten logs, discover weird bugs…all the things that used to happen more often, even in the suburbs, just twenty years ago.

Our grandkids get outside a lot, thanks to their intrepid mom, Mary, who likes to be on the move always. She plunks Maria and her little brother, Mario, into the stroller, into backpacks, into snugglies, and heads outside in all kinds of weather to the park, the pool, the playground. They are learning to be adventurous kids and now the farm gets to be part of their repertoire. I hope that as they get older, they are able to enjoy a passionate relationship with nature here. I hope that it lights a quiet fire inside them, a deep connection with and love for the Earth that stays with them into adulthood. And I hope that connection is a support for them as they grow and mature and wonder what it means to be a human being on this planet.
Maria, age three, spent the night with us this past weekend. She was recovering from a bout of strep throat, so she was lower-key than normal. It was the second time she spent the night with us at the farm, and this time she was more at ease and did not look at me every hour with a worried expression and ask, “Mommy?”
One of her favorite things to do is go across the road to our neighbor’s, the Bishops, and take the tour of their animals. That includes kittens, puppies, rabbits, ducks, a horse, chickens, and Maria’s personal favorite, newly hatched chicks. Whenever we return from the Bishop’s place, she always asks me, “Where are your horses?” And, “Where are your eggs?” Ah—all in good time, little one. Didn't you read my last blog entry about how much work this all is?

Why I don’t take my camera with me when we visit across the road, I don’t know, but here are some highlights from our place…
Cutting paper is always fun.

And here is a good one: Soon after she and I are lying down for bed after a no-nap day, Grandpa calls up the stairs, "Hey Maria, want to sit on a horse?" Our neighbor, Ernie stopped by with Casey, a retired barrel racer. Miss Maria, complete with bed-head hair was all for it, yes.
We love the tractor...

Till next time, little girl!

1 comment:

mary said...

You better live it up with Maria out at the farm with you because your pictures of Mario two years from now will surely be blurs as you are trying to snap him running from rock to rock or from bug to bug! Maria has this calmness to her that we do not see in Mr. Mario at all! Nonetheless, it brings a big ol' smile to my face to think of my two children out there prancing around the woods, watching the wildlife, splashing in the creek. Those will be magnificent memories that they will hold for their own kids. I cannot wait to show Maria her picture on mommy's computer!