Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Gift I Want To Give

If there is one thing that I hope for my daughter's future, aside from her being healthy, it is that she will grow up loving the natural world. I hope she will know how calming and restorative a walk in a green space can be, even if it just a park. I hope she will have the confidence to pick up a map and a compass and set out to wander the outdoors. I hope she will find it rejuvenating to fill her lungs with air scented with grass and manure. And I hope that she will delight in watching wild animals and birds whenever she can.

My parents worked long and hard to give me this gift. They put up with incessant moaning from my brother and I when they dragged us all out for long walks at the weekend. They took us on holiday to remote caravan sites beside windswept coastlines or craggy mountains, and hauled us up hills and down cliffs to catch elusive sightings of shy birds and animals. It must sometimes have been hard to maintain enthusiasm in the face of our cynical complaints. But do you know what? After all those years, something in us clicked. We started asking to go out for walks. When we left home for city universities we found that we missed those doses of country air. We bought tents and sought out quiet green campsites. We started looking for opportunities to watch wildlife. My parents really did succeed in giving us that appreciation of nature.

Will I be able to give my baby the same gift? I feel that I have so much to live up to. I remember so many wonderful moments, and I wonder if I will be able to give my daughter the same memories. I remember my first, thrilling view of a fox hunting at twilight; going out at dusk to watch a family of badgers emerge from its sett; visiting frenetic colonies of nesting seabirds; peering through binoculars at bobbing seals; seeing salmon leap up a weir; eating sandwiches in a hide while waiting to catch sight of a woodpecker; spying a weasel scurrying along a grassy bank. My best memory of all is watching a family of bluetits fledge from a nestbox on the front of our house.

Though I know it is going to be hard to give my daughter the same fond memories, I know that if I can, I will be giving her an escape route from the grey rush of urbanity. So I will do my best at every opportunity to escape the suburbs where we live and to immerse us in fresh air and greenness, in animals, plants, birds and insects.

Of course it's not even a given that there will be so many plants and animals for my daughter to look at when she grows up. If you have a moment, consider signing the RSPB's Letter to the Future that aims to show the UK government that millions of us humble citizens wish they would plough as much money and effort into safeguarding the natural world as they do into saving the economy. You don't have to be an RSPB member and you don't have to give them any money, though I think you have to be a UK citizen. It's a really good idea, and the more people that sign, the stronger the message becomes. Happy pledging.


Betsy B. Honest said...

me too.

Lisa - edenwild said...

I'm so grateful for the wonderful gift of national and state parks we have in the U.S. It's such a treasure. I'm also grateful to live in the very state that my parents used to take us on vacations. Michael loves the outdoors, and even though we haven't taken him camping yet or on any extraordinary hikes, I know we will. And he gets outdoors, plays in the dirt, sees critters, and gets lots of doses of fresh air just in our own neighborhood. That's an amazing gift your parents gave you and your brother...our excursions weren't quite that amazing, but amazing nonetheless. I think you just have to get out there. I hope your wildlife gets the protection it needs.

Mon said...

Not only would it be impossible to give her the same memories, it would be a shame.

You are your own unique wonderful person and mother, and she is her own unique child, AND you have a new unique relationship dynamic.
There's nothing to live up to at all.
You'll create a whole different experience that she'll cherish, simply because you loved her, loved being with her, and loved what you were doing.


Cave Mother said...

Lisa - I have been to some of your state parks, and yes, they are fab. I always maintain that wherever I go on the planet, Britain has bits just as cool. OK, maybe not on the scale of Yosemite, but Malham Cove is brill.

Mon - nice words! A good way of looking at it. Thanks.

allgrownup said...

I've tagged you over at my blog, you don't have to play though :-)

Amanda said...

I thought for sure my incessent suggestions to "look at this" or "look at that" were just going completely over my little one's head until he caught me off guard by asking questions about something to which I had directed his attention a few days before. Kids absorb so much more than we are aware!