Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

How do small things make you feel?  Do you sense their vulnerability and seek to protect them?  Or does their smallness seem irritating and invasive, as they tug you out of your comfort zone?

Salamander seeking a dark place to hide

Regardless of where we find ourselves, there will always be those among us who will be more vulnerable than others.  They may be very small in size like this baby red-backed salamander, or, although a bit bigger, they may suddenly find themselves in situations they aren’t prepared to handle on their own.

Maritime garter snake crossing a road

Sometimes they manage fine without our intervention.  Sometimes they don’t.

Shrew found dead on gravel road

Awareness is key. If we don’t know of the small and vulnerable in our environment, how can we  be expected to act on their behalf?  Or, at the very least, do them no harm?

It’s through the small things that we develop our moral imagination, so that we can understand the suffering of others.

~  Alexander McCall Smith

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2017

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snowshoe hare

Where am I going? I don’t quite know.
Down to the stream where the king-cups grow —
Up on the hill where the pine-trees blow —
Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.

If you were a bird, and lived on high,
You’d lean on the wind when the wind came by,
You’d say to the wind when it took you away:
“That’s where I wanted to go today!”

Where am I going? I don’t quite know.
What does it matter where people go?
Down to the wood where the blue-bells grow —
Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.

~  Excerpted from A. A. Milne’s poem ‘Spring Morning’

Arnold Schwartzenegger read this poem as he put his class down for a nap in the movie Kindergarden Cop.  Putting children down for a nap is seldom easy, but these words are so soothing, they might even put an adult to rest… especially if they were read by Arnold’s strong yet gentle voice.

Milne, who became known for his stories  of Winnie the Pooh, wrote another poem ‘Puppy and I’ which has a similar theme.  In it he asked rabbits he had met on the road where they were going in their brown fur coats, which made me think of the hare I saw along the trail this morning. 

In trying so hard to figure out where we’re going, sometimes we miss the wonders of the world around us, where we are, right now.  Sometimes it’s just enough to go… outdoors.

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It’s a sad sign of our times that children are spending less and less time playing outdoors in nature.  The lure of technology, busy lives and a lack of natural spaces are often blamed for this trend, but there’s really no excuse.  All technology has an off switch, lives can be made simpler and, even in the city, there are usually parks or wayside spaces nearby.

It’s easy to get a child to spend a sunny summer day at the beach, but other seasons and outdoor settings seldom have the same pull.  The hassle of getting a child dressed for the winter cold can be discouraging, but the health benefits alone are worth the effort.

Feet dangling over a brook

As a mother of three and grandmother of two, I’ve seen for myself the benefits of getting children one-on-one with nature. Confronted with the majesty of the great outdoors, a child quickly realizes that they’re not the center of the universe. Bad moods are quickly abandoned as the focus shifts to the natural world, whether in the form of a sunset, a forest or a daisy.

Years ago, while homeschooling my sons, I saw how going outdoors allowed them to burn off energy while refreshing their minds from a morning of book work. As a preschool teacher I see how 3 to 5 year olds delight in simply running and jumping outdoors and are thrilled at the discovery of a squirrel or pinecone in their surroundings.

However, over the years, I’ve also seen children too unaccustomed to the outdoors shrink back at the touch of evergreen needles and wince at the sunshine.  It doesn’t have to be this way.   Every child has the potential to be comfortable in nature.  Some may even find their better selves there. 

This post is the first in a series aimed at getting children outdoors.  Next time, I’ll offer an easy way to get a resistant child interested regardless of the season.

Text and photos copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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Waves can pull you in without getting you wet. One moment you’re looking at them from your vantage point on the shore and the next you’re tangled in their frothy curls.

With mist on your face and the roar of the sea numbing your ear drums, you’re soon set adrift.  As each wave rolls forward, you’re taken under into the mysterious deep.  Long forgotten memories are churned up and float on the surface like sea foam.  

Let your heart look on white sea spray
And be lonely…
~ Carl Sandburg

It’s a wonder how some of Nature’s most sensory experiences can take you so far away from the present moment.  You might recall long forgotten days at the beach, swimming or surfing.  Or your thoughts might drift farther away from the shore, re-examining what was and what might have been at any point along life’s journey. You might even surprise yourself by applying new solutions to old problems.

…  a mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought… alone.
~ William Wordsworth

You needn’t go far or stay away long.  And herein lies the greatest gift the sea can offer.  Wherever you go when you look at the sea, as with all the best voyages, you’re always more in tune with yourself upon your return.  

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Perhaps it’s because there are so many foggy days in springtime in Nova Scotia that each blue sky is considered extraordinary.  We can’t take any for granted and each one is a wonder unto itself.

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reflected in the water, skies here make an impression both above and below the horizon line.  Some days, the blue is mixed with grey, some days with pink.

The sky is one whole, the water another; and between those two infinities the soul of man is in loneliness.
~ Henryk Sienkiewicz

Right after taking the above photograph at dawn, I saw a young couple still in graduation dance attire drive by.   Going to the beach at dawn to see the sun rise seemed like a fitting end to an already memorable day.

We all see something different when we look at the sky, projecting onto it our feelings of either loneliness, sadness, joy or contentment.  Some of us look to the sky and dream hopeful dreams while others feel the weight of regrets and mourn past losses.   Regardless of the land-, sea- or sky-scape, nothing matters as much as our point of view.

The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through.

~ Edna St.Vincent Millay

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Do you ever walk aimlessly outside among the trees, looking up at the sky through the overhead branches? If you do this at sunrise, you have the opportunity of seeing the first rays of light kissing the trees good morning.

As you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens. 
~Stephen Graham, The Gentle Art of Tramping

Once the door is opened, it changes your outlook for the rest of the day.  You see more possibilities as the view becomes wider.  Each moment spent among the trees pays back in dividends of clarity and vision, enabling you to tackle the day’s problems with a fresh perspective.

In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity (leaving me my eyes), which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part and parcel of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintences, master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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