Getting to Know Wild Flowers

Open Your Eyes!

To shop, and school, to work and play,
The busy people pass all day;
They hurry, hurry, to and fro,
And hardly notice as they go
The wayside flowers, known so well,
Whose names so few of them can tell.

They never think of fairy-folk
Who may be hiding for a joke!

O, if these people understood
What’s to be found by field and wood;
What fairy secrets are made plain
By any footpath, road, or lane—
They’d go with open eyes, and look,
(As you will, when you’ve read this book)
And then at least they’d learn to see
How pretty common things can be!

— Cicely Mary Barker

 

With hardly a shop or school to go to, one of the silver linings for us during lockdown has been time to walk or run most days.  Without the rush of normal life, we have had time to appreciate the wild flowers growing along nearby pavements, paths and in meadows and woodlands. Continue reading

Autumn Books and Inspiration

October
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
— Robert Frost

Doesn’t Robert Frost capture the beauty of the season beautifully?! The leaves are falling and the skies are grey.  Autumn has arrived. Continue reading

An Afternoon with Michael Morpurgo

Just before Easter we got to hear Michael Morpurgo live in conversation with Nicolette Jones at the Sheldonian as part of the Oxford Literary Festival. Morpurgo is one of my son’s favourite authors and was speaking on his birthday, so it was an ideal birthday outing.  The conversation covered topics from the personal to the political and engaged all ages.  

However there were three things that he emphasised as being key for today’s children: Continue reading

Nature and Wildlife Games

Board games, card games and dice games are played a lot in our house. Winter seems to be when games really come into their own, but they are equally perfect for a quiet summer afternoon when trying to get respite from the heat. Continue reading

What do you do with your preschooler?

Homeschooling is always a great conversation starter. I am pretty good at anticipating people thinking that I’m mad, so I normally preempt the look of surprise by saying, “Yes I know – I’m crazy aren’t I?!”

The questions very quickly come to, “How can you teach your older two with your little toddler around?”, or often more bluntly phrased as, “What do you do with her when you are teaching?”  Continue reading

Butterflies

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”

— Hans Christian Anderson

With spring in full bloom here in Oxford, the bees and butterflies are now out in the garden. They add a wonderful sense of beauty, productivity, life and purpose.  When it comes to butterflies, we are very much amateurs, but loving learning all the same as we spend time outdoors.

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‘These are the days when birds come back’

Observing

We have been studying birds this term – learning names of garden birds, spotting them wherever we go, listening out for the ever increasing bird song as spring takes up residence, learning about their homes, nest making, migration and more.  We are total amateurs and our garden’s most common visitors are wood pigeons, blackbirds, robins and magpies, but all the same we have delighted in having time to actually observe them carefully.  As well as enjoying the birds around us, this morning we visited our local RSPB Nature Reserve, where a delightful retiree took time to point out oyster catchers, herons, a yellowhammer and some grass snakes!

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Easter Traditions (part 1)

With Easter fast approaching I’ve been thinking about traditions.

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Traditions and celebrations throughout the year are important to our family – patterns of life that give shape to the onward movement of time.  Traditions that we repeat and seasons we observe situate us within a different mode of time – one that is more like a circle than a line –  bringing us back to times and places we have been to before.

Continue reading

Delighting in Autumn Trees

I just love the trees at this time of year!  Such a vast array of colours and change, which hint that log fires, fireworks and carols are just around the corner.

Last week we have talked, thought and read about trees in autumn. My elder two both chose one tree each at our local arboretum (but it could just as well have been one lining our pavement!) that will be their special tree for the year. Continue reading