“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
— John Muir
My granddaughter Isabella loves nature and loves “tugging” at nature. Most people grumble about the grunginess and dreariness of spring with its dirty, leftover snow, gritty roads and litter emerging everywhere. That was my perspective also until I went for a long walk with Isabella on Easter weekend. I got a chance to look at the world through her eyes.
While I’m disturbed by refuse carelessly strewn about, Isabella sees rocks, spruce cones, twigs and leaves that survived a long winter under snow cover. If I’d allow it, she would collect every leaf and all the gravel on the road. Instead, I ask her to decide which rocks are keepers and which are throwers. Throwers she pelts into the puddles beside the road, hoping to make a big splash or crack the remaining ice.
I suggest saving pictures in our minds so we don’t have to take everything home. We stop to admire a row of cedars, and savouring the moment Bella announces, “I’ll always remember this Nana.”
Isabella loves leaves and wants to pocket her favourites, so we talk about how brittle and fragile leaves are after a winter’s blanket of snow. She learns that leaves crumble and enrich the soil. Bella agrees that fall is a better time to gather leaves. Still, she reaches for the next leafy artifact but it too disintegrates as she gently tries to pocket it.
Together we look at places where brown leaves have absorbed the sun’s heat, melting the snow beneath. As we walk, Bella sings a long, made-up song about her favourite insect, the ladybug. She informs me that ladybugs have three parts and are good bugs. My granddaughter reminds me how caterpillars turn into butterflies and unselfconsciously, she skips ahead, arms outstretched in a graceful butterfly dance.
In spite of the cool weather and grunge, Bella is in her element. Natural wonder — not the bleakness of spring — attracts her eye. I can’t help mentioning the carelessly abandoned litter. Isabella says she doesn’t like that either, but she assures me she looks after her world. I’m pleased she is learning about nature and the environment. I’m glad our daughter, Bella’s mom, won’t mind a jacket soiled from clutching precious rocks.
Isabella enjoys our walks. I do too. She’s helping me look more appreciatively at spring. We get our exercise, quality one-on-one time, a clearer head, a better vision and a fresher breath of spring air.
Sharon Espeseth writes from Barrhead, Alberta