Thursday, December 04, 2014

Grown Ups, Little People and the Sense of Wonders

I don't usually mix personal life and public persona and it is very seldom that I would post personal thoughts but today is an exemption. So here it goes and I am sure many can identify with this.
Some mornings I look in the mirror and I can only recognise the eyes. They are truly mines, because the glint of mischief is still there. I am still a 4 year old at heart, trapped into a grown up body, whom I don't know. Some days I wonder who made this silly mistake, putting me in charge of 2 kiddies - surely it must be a joke and any minute now, a responsible adult will come and ask me to go home, as it is time for their kids to go to bed or eat their dinner. 
Some other mornings I am quite content, being a mother, and the role fits like a glove. But most of times, I feel it's like a hide 'n seek game, where I am searching for the answers - what is good parenting? The silly things keep running away from me, making my chase a long one. But one day I am going to find those answers and get a good grip on them and never let them run again from me. I am Mother, therefore I have to have the answers.
I am not sure whether I am supposed to get upset at my kids for getting muddy from head to toes, or whether I should jump in the puddles with them. Ok, I will probably jump in too. After I take a few pics. I mean, how is one supposed to keep a serious face on these occasions? 


I have always been a wanderer - my Nana used to say I have a gypsy soul. I grew up in a village surrounded by hills and forests. I used to leave the house in the morning and come back at noon - or when I was hungry, with armfuls of wild flowers and more flowers knotted in my hair. There was never a safety concern on those days - the whole village was my family - and I never got lost. I knew my way home with my eyes close. I wish my kids had that kind of freedom today and that connection to nature. I was 5 years old and never wrong about the weather. I could always tell a sunny day from storms coming. I still can. Truth be told, an injured knee contributes to my weather sensitivity nowadays but I still have the precision of a Swiss clock. 
We live in an age of digital advancement, where there seems to be an app for everything. Sometimes it is vey hard to find the right balance between the "digital" learning and real life, hands-on, direct experience. 
I remember one time in Japan, I saw a group of school kids - aged about 10-12 yo. They were visiting an aquarium at the same time I was. I was amazed at the speed they were taking notes about marine life. And by notes I don't mean pen and pad. They all had phones. They took a picture of the fish, input the information about it, then move to the next tank, new pic, new notes and so on. I am a very old-school gal; while I used to have a reasonably high typing speed on a computer, I was never good at texting. So it was really amazing, seeing these kids typing information at the speed of light. And that was back in the times of the old mobile phones; not the smart phones. Makes you wonder, how much learning has changed over the years. And are all changes good? 
We are very lucky to live in our own Paradise corner. While we do use the modern gadgets in our learning and I do understand the benefits of so many wonderful educational tools, I still believe that we must not loose our connection to nature. For me, the Grasslands are Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of everything. I love walking around and finding new sights every day. The place looks unchanged, yet never the same. Every day will bring a new adventure. Or a new thought. Sights, colours and shapes. Of course, like any parent, I would have lots of fears - rational or not - when taking the kids along. Like "what if they come across a snake while running around"? Or "what if they trip over the logs, or try to climb trees and fall"? "What happens if we come too close to a kangaroo"? 
Of course, vigilance has never hurt anyone. But on the same time, I try not to project my own fears over them, or let my fears prevent them from accumulating the life experience they need. It is a very fine balancing act and sometimes I find myself scrambling for answers. 
But most of the times, the magic of the grasslands will win me over. My 4yo has put this in words the best way. One foggy winter morning, walking to preschool she looked over the misty grounds and exclaimed: Mummy, we live in Fairy Land. And indeed we do. Here is yesterday's walkabout, just after the rain. Examining snails, colours popping up in the wet, birds and we even saw two kangaroos fighting far away in a corner.


The Aboriginal people talk of this deep connection to the Land. I truly believe they are right. If you take the time to know it and to listen to it, the Land will talk to you. One just has to slow down and listen. I have been travelling a fair bit of my life but I have only felt this connection in two places. One is the stage of my long gone childhood - The Apuseni Mountains in my native Romania. A place of legends and beauty.

The other place that I feel deeply connected to is my Grasslands Nature Reserve. The place I learn to love more and more, as the days pass. I don't think I could ever express in words the beauty, the peace and the sense of wonder I find there every day. Most of the time, I'll let my camera do the talking, while my thoughts are running free. Here is a collection of favourite moments. Enjoy the magic of my Grasslands.

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