I just read an article about the fact that children don't spend so much time out in the forest anymore. In Finland!!
Our country may be small and full of anti-social people, but we do have a lot of space for children to play in. Forests, lakes, fields and the sea, to name but a few adventure-enticing choices. It's quite sad if parents don't find the forest to be part of their children's upbringing. All the beauty and diversity that nature can offer to a child's creative mind just going to waste.
We spent our childhood summer’s more or less outdoors, only going indoors for meals. This meant that we stomped around in high black rubber boots made by Nokia. They were heavy and not that pretty to look at but they saved us from being bitten by adders. There are a lot of snakes where we grew up and the adder is a poisonous one.
There was always a village’s worth of cousins around to play with and we had fun. Swim school and horseback riding, theater plays and dogs that followed us in our tracks.
I had my animals and there was never a dull moment. We did not have mobile phones and the TV reception was not brilliant, but we had books. We used to bicycle to the library bus every second week. I still remember the excitement, when evening came around and we went to bed and there were unread books waiting to be opened. For some reason the library bus was more fun than the big, nice library in town. It must have been the bicycling that made it special. I still can't stop smiling, when I'm out on a bike. My dear husband finds it a bit funny and thinks it makes me look like someone who could do with some help. I guess I could.
I do not feel that everything was better when we were young but I do feel that life was simpler for children. It was not a luxury to play, it was everyday life and we were good at it. I could have done with less cross country skiing in the winter, I must admit.
Ebba keeps us in tune with the countryside, these days. Her dislike of roads turns walking with her into a trek in the forest and mice hunting on the fields. We still do most of it at full speed and we must look so odd, bolting across fields to then do a full stop and stay put for ever and ever. Ebba believes in digging proper, deep holes when she finds the time to stop.
Her style of finding mice requires a dive, head first, into the snow. Then she starts sniffing and exhaling deeply which makes her sound like Darth Vader. I expect the empire to strike back at any minute. Tiny Jedi rodent younglings surfacing to save their world from Ebba and her big nose. I truly hope she has not already eaten all the Jedi knights as that would severely weaken their force.
This nonsense goes through my head as I stand waiting for Ebba to finish her hunting and digging. As I can spend quite a long time doing this, my mind runs away with me and all kinds of stuff pops up. Some days my mind fills with thoughts of Mr. Chip and I start missing him so much, once again. Grief does that to you, it surfaces when you least expect it and hits you till it hurts. Other days I can stand there writing long letters to friends, all in my head, that I later can't remember at all. I did think about making this into a new form of meditation technique. Hole digging and soul searching. What do you think? Ebba could be running the course and I could provide everyone with strong coffee and gloves.
Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My are enjoying the warm, sunny winter weather and are chomping through spruce trees and willow twigs, in the yard. They say it's tasting a bit like heaven, after all the hay they have eaten this winter and I believe them. The ground is still covered in snow and ice so their outdoor lunch is usually limited to about an hour or so. They also find time to be brushed and pampered and I get to work on my arm muscles, which is good. I sometimes believe we have the sweetest animals in the world and then two hens decide to fall out and spoil that thought for me. Ebba is kindness on long legs, but her humour can be a bit full on, at times. She finds thumping us with a big paw to see if we really were asleep, to be the funniest thing to do. She can go out for a wee, forget the purpose of the exercise and start to play with a pine cone for ten minutes instead and this can drive you up the nearest granite wall. However, Ebba means well, it's just so much fun. I have learned to wrap up warmly whenever we pop outside, Ebba and I, as I never know how long we will be. Ebba can't tell either, as her philosophy in life seems to be an extreme version of "go with the flow". We're flowing this way and that.
Katy and Trisha, our younger hens almost scared me to a standstill the other morning. I was thinking about Mindy and wondering about animal health in general. Then along came two happy hens with the most abnormally shaped feet I've ever seen! It looked like they had huge warts on their toes and ankles. However, these two were completely deformed. I rushed to look at the others but they were fine and then I realised what disaster I was facing. Katie and Trisha had first walked through a deep bowl of sour cream and then carried on plodding in unpeeled sesame seeds. The effect was pure Frankenstein's monster and in the early morning light all I saw was pain and suffering. My nerves took some time to recover.
Our animals still spend a lot of their day indoors, dreaming of warmer days to come. Our funny hens probably dream of worms and slugs, our dear sheep can dream about their green grass and hope there's still a flowerbed to be eaten. Ebba plans where all the holes should be dug. I will dream of a time when children will recapture the joy of playing in the forest finding interesting and new things to learn. I will also dream of a time when nature will once again be truly loved and cared for. I will not think of hens and their feet.
Be well and be safe.
P.S. Our sunny week has turned into slush and snow, as I write this. We are going to bake cinnamon buns and ignore the wet weather- as soon as all the animals have had their breakfast and clean surroundings. Ebba won't even notice the change in weather.
A blog about a small holding in Southern Finland. Each original story is accompanied by a stunning watercolour illustration or resplendent photographs.