It takes time to look at something. In this age of accelerated lifestyles it is rare that we take the time to really notice nature’s evolving cycles. The waxing and waning of the moon each month, the growing of a seed and its eventual return to the soil, the gentle progression of the seasons are but a few of the reminders of the natural cycles in our environment.
Enthralled with the natural world around me, I am forever appreciative of the Pacific Northwest, the bountiful, beautiful region I call home. I view all growing things as forms of art and am particularly enamored with the profusion of colors and textures that abound in nature. As a child, I loved digging in the dirt and making mud pies. My brothers and I were fascinated by looking for worms and bugs and examining them with a magnifying glass. So were my two boys when they were young. When hiking, we always came home with pockets full of interesting rocks, decaying seed pods, colorful leaves and other wonders of nature. Every treasure found a spot in our home “science museum” — which I continue to add to, even today.
Apparently, playing in the mud as a child and collecting rocks with my kids as an adult wasn’t enough for me. I later went on to teach horticulture to 1st through 7th graders at a Montessori school — so much of fun for both me and the kids! Children really enjoy planting seeds, watching them grow and harvesting what they have grown. By cultivating their curiosity about these things, they will develop a life-long love of nature and gardening — skills which are even more important now than ever.
In the classroom, one of the first things we discussed was the progression of seed to plant, to flower, and to seed again. Most of the kids had no idea what a seed pod was, let alone how many kinds there were. I brought in about 100 varieties and the kids were amazed. What was really awesome though, was that they all went home and poked around in their yards and refrigerators. Many of the kids brought in their discoveries the following week, which was heartwarming and inspiring.
If you’d like to help your child develop an appreciation for the wonders of nature, a great place to start is with the life cycle of a seed. Providing a pot or a section of garden to plant in will enable your child to explore this powerful and complete cycle, and it’s easy to encourage their enthusiasm by helping them choose seeds for planting that mature quickly and are large enough for them to easily handle.