“When I was a little kid…” Wow, I already sound to myself as if I am a thousand years old while saying that. But yes, nostalgia kicks in and so does the realisation that the childhood I’ve had was way different from the childhoods of the young ones these days. Poetry thrives on our primal emotions and our connectedness to what surrounds us. In that sense, the childhoods of the yesteryears were more poetic than the childhoods of today. Don’t worry, this is not a sulky blogpost lecturing about forming bonds with nature and playing outside, it is just a fond remembrance of the good ol’ days.
There is challenge in every nook and cranny for mankind. It is as if mother nature wants you to earn your rewards. The bush that houses those luscious, juicy wild berries is rife with thorns; the guava tree with branches laden with fruits has slippery skin so that climbing it is tricky; the mango tree does its best to hide its fruits behind the leaves. As a kid, I was always fond of these little treats that nature hides for us. I’d gang up with my buddies, ask one of them to hold the thorny branches of the shrub with a bamboo stick and walk towards the center to collect the berries; learning to climb the guava tree involved the evolution of knowledge about where exactly to place one’s feet to get a good grip. Over time, you tend to develop a method or trick to do things and perhaps that’s what nature wants you to do. For spotting the ripe mangoes and nailing them down with your catapult, you need sharpness of vision and lots of practice. A child needs nature to hold its hand and walk it through these challenges.
Then there are the quadrapeds. I think learning to make friends with other animals is a skill humans are well endowed with. You see a stray puppy and you take it home, you hold its little paws as your mom scolds you for bringing in the germs, you feed the kitten that regularly visits your porch on lazy afternoons, you take the crawling caterpillars on a leaf and watch its hundreds of feet move in unison, you help a bug which has fallen on its back get back up on its feet; all these small little things that you do make you a better human, nay, they distinguish you from other animals. Compassion is something you can learn through nature- be it laying down flour for the ants or water for the thirsty birds on summer afternoons.
There is also adventure waiting for you at every step. I am not talking about forest trails or even a walk down the hill; nature invites you in its small ceremonies every day. Pigeons laying their nests in your window, male and female sparrows longing for each other in your lawn, dogs chasing down a cat, squirrels performing daredevil stunts on tree branches- there is action everywhere and a romantic mind finds it all poetic and thrilling at the same time.
Nature is also where your creativity meets imagination. All those fables that you’re taught in kindergarten, you can see them come alive. All the characters with their peculiar mannerisms are right in front of you in a colourful canvas, playing their roles. If you observe closely, there are so many stories waiting to be written, so many secrets waiting to be told. It’s all like a spider’s web in a thick forest- mystical, intriguing and exciting.
I do not think all that is lost now, I don’t think these things can ever be lost. In every park, in every hill, in zoological gardens, even in your own lawns and balconies, they’re all there. All you need to do is give your eyes some rest from the flickering computer screen or TV screen for a while and observe. Mother nature is always around like a protective, loving teacher revealing her tricks like a magician and handing out treats for the observant students.