Now that we are past the winter solstice, the days grow blissfully longer; but due to our orbit and the slant of the sun, the earth continues to cool in our hemisphere, plunging us headlong into winter. This is a nice time of year for families to collect and kindle nature stories that will light the flame of a child’s imagination, hopefully for a lifetime.
Nature stories can be found everywhere: drifting by in the newspaper, swimming around on the internet, scampering about outside at this very moment in the trees. Collecting these stories is a hunting/gathering activity suitable for our times, one that deeply nourishes the family spirit. Here’s a story plucked out of thin air, off the radio waves, that’s worth telling over again:
One day, a mother in Sweden set about to teach her little girls the fine art of cooking, complete with composting, so she took off her wedding ring for safekeeping. After all the cooking, teaching, and cleaning was over, she went to put her wedding ring back on – and it was gone! Never to be found again… …until…
Sixteen years later, after the girls had grown up, learned to drive and were busy starting their lives, the mother was harvesting root vegetables in the garden one day, when much to her surprise, up came the diamond ring wrapped snugly around a carrot! Evidently, the ring had gotten mixed up with the compost pile and worked its way into the garden, where a carrot grew through the middle of it, just like a finger. You can see a picture of the actual ring, and the happy mother and father, at this linkon the BBC.
Every great culture has stories of valuable treasure to be found in one’s very own backyard, and telling these stories to spellbound children over a candlelit dinner, on a cold winter night, is like creating compost, treasure and a little bit of sunshine, all at the same time. It’s a little trick for the dinner table: find a way to deliver a long tale and you will be surprised at the way ears open up, eyes open wide, and mouths open up to gobble down more food.