This is a weak area for me. As Jeanne said in one of her brilliant posts, we all have strengths… and weaknesses, and one of mine is nature study. Going outdoors, freely playing, enjoying nature without any particular vision or plan in mind, just eating al-fresco, etc, all that we have done plenty and with much joy, but the type of outdoors education that Charlotte Mason talks about, that has not shown up its face much at home yet. I can give you a excuse, my girls are young, but I should have been learning ahead a bit, and I feel as those moms who confess they have not proof read their children books they use to narrate from them, which always makes you clueless as if they are giving you a good narration.
I’m a city girl who had a lot of country moments (I learned to swim in a river, my uncle had a chalet in the country near one, with his big garden full of fruits, he even had birds in a cage, for crying out loud, and all I remember is parrots, canaries, or doves). All this was in Madrid, around three decades ago, and now I’m in Houston and a bit hopeless and literally sweaty. After reading of Charlotte Mason´s contagious love for nature, of how endlessly she advocated we took our children outdoors and guide them into looking, observing, comparing, storing those scenes in their heads as old friends, I confess I feel defeated… Oh, how I wish anyone would have helped me to do this for I can’t retrieve but a few of those childhood scenarios! But the question is, would I be able to do this for my daughters? Or will the generation curse perpetuate? As Charlotte Mason says that habits is ten natures, (also the part I’m at in the course after learning about nature), there is always the hope to do a bit better every time, every month, every quarter.
So what is my plan? My plan is to go out every Monday, or a different day if needed, but once a week, with binoculars and magnifying glass in hand (I got a great deal at Academy of a pair of binoculars on clearance), paper and color pencils, sunblock and hats (did you know yesterday we broke the record of the hottest morning in the year,? 83 Fahrenheit at 8:00 am?, and other days we’ll keep going to the back of our neighborhood as we do sometimes, and look at those cotton tail rabbits we’ve seen. At times we’ll come home and paint or colored the drawn findings with our new water paints and good brushes and paper, thank you PAM!, and we’ll try to find those names in Latin. I’ll start my own nature journal too. We’ll notice the changes in the seasons, and we’ll lay on a blanket, our eyes closed, and describe what we saw in one of our special walks. I know I can commit to visiting once a week one of the two or three places close to us, but I still have to see if we can make it a habit to go to a further and nicer nature spot at least once a month! When this challenging plan fails, I pledge to look for things in my backyard and neighborhood to draw and study. And Nature study will have a huge bonus this year, for at the end of November, the whole month of December, and half of January, we’ll visit Malta and Spain, and this time we’ll bring in our memories, Lord Willing, some ‘old friends’ forever!
Wish us all luck, specially to this nature illiterate!