On our daily walks around the neighborhood, the Woodsboy likes to point out the different plants I’ve been teaching him about. His favorite is yarrow. He also knows dandelion, mugwort and stinging nettles. He knows blueberries, raspberries, wild strawberries, lingonberries and, most recently, blackberries. His tree repertoire includes pine, spruce and birch. I can’t remember back to when I was three-and-a-half years old, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t able to identify that many plants, berries and trees.
Now, I’m not telling you this to boast about my son like some parents do. All little kids soak up information like a sponge. It’s amazing. What prompted me to write this blog post was one recent occasion when he started naming one plant after another to me and then singing “Mugwort, mugwort, yarrow! Mugwort, mugwort, yarrow!” as we continued along. His enthusiasm and excitement about a part of my hobby (or passion, you could say) made me feel proud and pleased. Rather than memorizing Pokemon characters (or whatever the latest incarnation is), he was learning about something real. Something of substance. Nothing amazing, but still, something worth learning.
In a world where kids are constantly bombarded with loud, flashy cartoons, video games and amazing toys, a lot of things worth learning are often left by the wayside. Valuable things which used to be part of our daily lives in a simpler and less artificial time (don’t even get me started about morals and ethics). I think the lack of knowledge and appreciation for the natural world seen so often today is sad, which is one reason why I am trying to learn all I can and pass that on to the Woodsboy now that he’s old enough to begin understanding some of it. Although I have always enjoyed camping, hiking, bushcraft and being in nature, the bulk of what I know and have done is from relatively recent times, just the past 5 years or so. My wish is for it to be second nature to the Woodsboy.
As we walk along the paths each day, I’m delighted when he asks, “What’s this plant, Daddy?” and then embarrassed if I don’t know the answer! I can only hope that he maintains this interest, because there’s so much more I want to teach him about the outdoors and about life. So many things I’ve learned and have yet to learn that I think would enrich his life and serve him well. His curiosity gives me hope that his knowledge and experience will far surpass mine one day, and that I’ll have to ask, “What’s this plant, son?”.