What do you say about birds and bees?
Talking about birds and bees isn’t always a grimace-inducing sex chat is it? When spring and summer visitors return to the UK even city kids can be tricked out of school grumps and into a happier mood. For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is by Nicola Baird, also see www.nicolabaird.com
Oh happy day! The swifts are back – the wonderful free-wheeling screamers that zip above the city streets where I live. The swifts are late this year – I know this because the greater celandine in the bucket by the door has nearly finished flowering. And they’ve flown an amazing distance from Africa probably, over war zones, seas and the guns of European bird hunters. It’s hard for me to stop myself rushing up to passers-by to point out these wonderful birds.
I spotted them after my daughters had headed off to school so you’re the first to hear the news. I’m sure you know that spring or summer is really here when a particular plant blooms or bird or animal is spotted. Earlier this week I had to attend some training on a farm a few miles from Guildford. It’s a commuter dormitory but within a few minutes of the main town the roads are wreathed in cow parsley and everything is the perfect English green. On the farm the first thing I heard was a cuckoo. For a city dweller like me this is a really special sound, some years I don’t get to hear them unless I put on a bird tape. At the farm – a dressage centre rather than the conventional food producer – the receptionist said the cuckoo’s return meant she “knew spring was here at last.”
My city-born daughters probably have their own spring-is-here coda when the newts come back to our pond. Mostly they don’t fuss much about wildlife and I don’t think that’s very good for their mental and emotional resilience. So when the 15 year old looked stressed from too much GCSE exam revision yesterday I suggested she picked some chard for dinner. She flounced out of the house to do this, very put out.
Fortunately the magic of the garden quickly changed her mood. Even before she’d come back in happier she’d found an ailing bee which she reckoned she could rescue. Her plan was to flip it right side up – a good one. But I suggested she also gave it some sugar water and an empty loo roll middle to shelter in overnight. Happily she set about saving the bee… and the morning report is good. The bee is bumbling about far more happily ready for a bit more sugar water.
Get your coat
Do you find being outside – doing something with plants, animals or insects – helps your child out of tricky feelings?
A good book to help you and your family explore the outdoors in towns and cities is The Wild City Book by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks. It came out on May day and has loads of things to do to get your kids more comfortable with nature. There are lots of bee tasks – such as making a bee hotel or a nectar café by clever planting. But plenty of ideas could be impromptu such as creating a massive daisy or dandelion chain for a flower necklace or art in the park just using leaves and sticks. Definitely a book to improve every city dweller’s life whether big, small or six-legged.
The Wild City Book: loads of things to do in towns and cities by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks (Frances Lincoln, 2014, £9.99). Find it on amazon here. There’s also an opportunity for half term visitors to London’s Natural History Museum to have a go at some of the activities in the book for free and supervised by the authors. Turn up between 12-4 on Thursday 29 June 2014, in the museum’s wildlife garden.