January 22, 2013

When was the last time you looked at a tree?  No, not the last time you saw a tree, I mean LOOKED AT a tree. When was the last time you felt the roughness of a bark, appreciated the symmetry of a leaf, or stood beneath a towering canopy, and watched the sun dance among the leaves?

Something my grandmother and my mother always encouraged us to do as children was to stop and notice the small details in nature: to watch a squirrel’s silly antics, to find the Johnny Jump-ups hidden in the grass, and speculate on the possible inhabitants of a hole at the root of a tree.

I realize that as an adult, I have been forgetting to notice. Sorry Grandma. But, fortunately, I have my children to help me remember.

 Any parent will tell you, children notice the strangest things. A walk with a 3-year old takes at least twice as long, due to constant examinations of rocks, leaves, feathers, and of course, cigarette butts and candy wrappers. It is tempting to rush children along. The stopping can take its toll on the patience.

Indeed, a child’s remarkable capacity for noticing makes baby-proofing a near-impossible task. As I write this, my 1-year old is currently performing a survey of the living room, trying to find any crumb of dirt un-vacuumed, sticking his fingers in any crevice he can find, and checking to make sure all the latches are secure.  

My 5-year old pointed out a symmetrical snowflake the other day, and yesterday I watched my 3-year old neighbour track a squirrel. What a wonderful way to look at the world.

And so, instead of getting frustrated with all the stopping, and with all our thwarted attempts at baby-proofing, I will take this opportunity to remind myself that ‘noticing’ is a gift. It is our way of fully experiencing and knowing the world.


We will not protect that which we do not love, and we will not love that which we do not know.





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